Covid-19, and the curious case of Kolhapur


Seventy-year-old Sunanda Patil is unable to understand why her home town has become a “Covid-19 hotspot”. The bustling pilgrimage place, and one of the richest districts in the State with well-developed sugar, foundry, and textile industries having per capita district domestic product of ₹36,178, has attracted the attention of the State and Central governments.

Kolhapur district has reported over 10 per cent Covid-19 positivity rate since June, even as the rate in other districts declined. Interestingly, about 70 per cent of the 45-plus population in Kolhapur has received the first dose of Covid-19 vaccine and 10 per cent population has received the second dose.

“I don’t feel safe even after taking two vaccines as the Covid-19 numbers are scary”, says Sunanda.

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In the last one week (July 14-20), 17 per cent Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra have come from Kolhapur district, which has a population of about 38 lakh.

Grim situation

“We are worried. The number of cases is going down in some districts and routine life is back to normal as restrictions are relaxed. But in Kolhapur the situation is grim” says Anu Kadam, a professional.

Kolhapur has a fatality rate of 2.9 per cent, higher than the State’s fatality rate of 2.1 per cent. The recovery rate is 91.7 per cent, the second-lowest in the State after Sangli (91 per cent). Maharashtra’s recovery rate is 96.33 per cent. Kolhapur has 10,100 active cases and stands fifth in the tally of active cases after Pune (15,042), Thane (12,549), Sangli (10,849) and Mumbai (10,638).

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State Health Minister Rajesh Tope, who visited Kolhapur last week, said that the situation in the district was “serious” with a positivity rate of 9.7. But he added that by the end of July, the situation would be under control.

Heading towards complete lockdown

Health officials say that the second wave started late in the district and hence the number of cases looks higher compared to other districts.

Recently, a Central team of experts visited Kolhapur and, according to sources, it has recommended complete lockdown in the district to control the number of Covid cases.

However, traders and business houses in the city are strongly against any lockdown. “We will have to pull down shutters permanently if the government imposes complete lockdown. Already we have suffered heavily and now we don’t have any capacity to sustain”, said Rajesh Patil, a trader.

The State government and district administration are closely monitoring the situation. The administration is conducting a microscopic study of the detected cases by collecting data and genomic sequencing is on the cards to find out the virus variant that infects fully vaccinated people.


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