Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope tells Rediff.com that 181,667 patients across major airports in the state have been screened for coronavirus till date. Of them, only 507 showed symptoms of the disease.
While 500 have tested negative and have been discharged, the final reports of the remaining seven will be available soon.
Tope also tells Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com that the decision to hold IPL games in Mumbai will be taken at the state cabinet meeting scheduled for Wednesday, March 11.
This is how Maharashtra is gearing itself to contain the spread of COVID-19 as well as handle any eventuality that the state could face in the coming days. Over to Minister Tope:
Maharashtra has successfully conducted screenings of 181,667 people at all its major airports in Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune, etc, till date.
Of these people, 507 people showed some symptoms of coronavirus, but after thorough screenings and tests conducted at the National Institute of Virology, Pune, 500 patients have been discharged because their tests were negative.
The samples of remaining seven people are expected in a day or two from the NIV.
These seven people -- from Pune, Mumbai, Nagpur and Thane -- are under surveillance at different hospitals at these locations. They are still admitted pending final reports from the NIV. We consider final reports coming only from NIV.
Doctors who traveled to Delhi under the 'Training of Trainers' programme organised by the Union health ministry have come back. On March 11, 12 and 13, a large batch of these medical officers will train doctors and medical personnel in various districts of the state.
We have formed special medical teams in all of Maharashtra's districts to handle COVID-19.
We have kept in reserve large number of functional ventilators just in case there is an outbreak.
More than 502 isolation beds have been kept ready in various districts, corporation, medical college and private hospitals to quarantine suspected patients.
We have asked the central government to provide us with 10,000 PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) kits.
200,000 N-95 medical masks used by medical workers, airport officers, doctors, which provide top to bottom protection to individuals wearing them, have been procured by the Maharashtra government.
We have made arrangement for 1,500,000 (15 lakh/1.5 million) triple layer masks, which are given to suspected patients or their relatives who have come in contact with them or those who have been quarantined or are under observation.
Information, Education and Communication plays a very crucial role in dealing with such outbreaks and in controlling panic spread among people.
In this respect, the state government has already put up outdoor hoardings across all districts in the state detailing the dos and don'ts for people showing symptoms and tips on how to avoid getting infected.
We are making extensive use of posters detailing the same information so that it reaches small villages and mofussil areas of the state.
From today (March 9), we have booked television spots to air ads created by the Union government that create awareness about how to deal with and avoid spreading coronavirus -- which are translated in Marathi so that the people of the state can understand them. We will also air radio jingles to create awareness from today.
We are also airing these ads in cinema halls and theatres to give it wider publicity and to reach maximum people of the state.
While we have already spent Rs 10 crore (Rs 100 million) on some of these initiatives, we have requested the central government to provide us with additional funds.
NIV, Pune is well equipped to handle samples of patients from across the country and it is strictly following the protocols while handling samples of patients who are suspected of suffering from COVID-19.
Maharashtra is prepared adequately to deal with coronavirus.
A decision on the IPL matches against the backdrop of coronavirus to be held in Mumbai will be taken at the state cabinet meeting on Wednesday.