PUNE: One year after the first case of COVID-19 was detected in Maharashtra, use of masks, physical distancing, hand hygiene and vaccination remain the key tools to contain spread of the viral infection, says an expert.
On March 9 last year, a Pune-based couple who had returned from a Dubai trip tested positive for coronavirus.
Their daughter and a cab driver who had ferried the family from Mumbai to Pune also tested positive for the viral infection the next day.
The couple was admitted to the civic-run Naidu Infectious Diseases Hospital here and recovered from the disease after some days.
Their daughter and the cab driver also recovered.
Talking to PTI while recounting the outbreak of the disease in the state, Naidu Infectious Diseases Hospital superintendent Dr Sudhir Patsute said even before the detection of the first case, the medical facility was prepared to handle any situation.
"We had done our training and required homework well in advance and as a result, we could achieve what we wanted to (in terms of handling the situation)," he said.
Dr Patsute said people followed the COVID-19 prevention protocols in 2020 and as a result, the spread of the virus could be contained by the year-end.
"However, it seems for the last three months, the grip over the caution has loosened. As a result, we are now seeing a spike in cases," he said.
Dr Patsute appealed to people to wear face mask, follow physical distancing and hand hygiene and take the vaccine against COVID-19.
"We cannot get rid of the coronavirus forever, but these are the key tools to contain the number of cases and the mortality rate," he said.
He said fortunately, the vaccine is available free of cost in government hospitals for people aged above 60 and those between 45 to 59 years of age with co-morbidities.
"If we immunise this category, we will be able to control the COVID-19 cases and the death rate," he said.
Pune resident Jivandhar Awati (51), who and his wife were the first to test positive for the viral infection in the state last year, also appealed to people to take the vaccine and follow all the COVID-19 prevention norms.
"The coronavirus has changed our lives completely. The initial days of isolation after testing positive were tough, but we remained mentally fit and overcame the fear," he told PTI.
Awati also said that a few months after recovering from the disease, he donated his plasma to save the lives of other patients.
He said the viral infection has taught him about the importance of a healthy lifestyle and regular exercise.