Bhilwara Provides India’s Model for Covid19 Containment
Bhilwara, a textile-manufacturing district in Rajasthan, was the epicentre of the state’s Covid19 infections until a week ago. Now, with strict curfew and aggressive screening, Bhilwara has recorded only one positive case since March 30, reported The New Indian Express, even as the total number of Covid19 cases in India have surged exponentially from 1,259 to 4,300 in the same time frame.
Over the course of the week, while Jaipur overtook Bhilwara in terms of the total tally of positive cases in the state, Bhilwara managed to turn 13 of its 24 positive cases into negative with another four in recovery, Rajendra Bhatt, the Bhilwara district magistrate, announced. In addition, of the 6,800 people who were put in quarantine for a two-week period, only 2,500 remain in quarantine.
While the national 21-day lockdown was announced on March 24, Bhilwara enforced a curfew and sealed off its borders on March 20, immediately following the detection of Covid19 cases among healthcare workers on March 19 at Bhilwara’s popular private hospital, Brijesh Banger Memorial Hospital, The Print reported.
The district employed a vigorous screening mechanism, which saw the number of tested climb from 69 on March 22 to 1,494 by April 1. In addition to testing every individual who had visited the hospital in the last one month, Bhilwara tested patients referred by doctors and conducted a door-to-door survey. Teams of health workers surveyed 4.22 lakh families in both the urban and rural areas and examined 21.64 lakh persons, reported The Hindu. This extensive testing ensured that positive cases were treated and quarantined quickly.
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Moreover, to better implement social distancing, Bhilwara had only given permission to milk shops and medical stores to stay open while the administration home-delivered ration, fruit and vegetable supplies through local booths. In addition, between April 3 to April 13, the district is intensifying the curfew and will home-deliver even milk and medicines. “We want to conclusively break the chain of transmission here… all roads of colonies and localities are being sealed. This 10-day programme is vital to win the battle against coronavirus in Bhilwara,” Bhatt added.
The health and police departments in the district formulated and implemented a strict, proactive and aggressive containment strategy that saw health officials working in cooperation with beat constables to survey Bhilwara. A massive screening of the infection across urban and rural areas of the district, to tackle community transmission, was completed within a short span of nine days, and eventually, contributed to Bhilwara’s potential success story against the coronavirus. “There was this fear of 7,000 people getting infected so we were working on a war footing. It was a new situation for all of us. [The] survey was completed without any law and order situation,” Harendra Kumar Mahawer, the Superintendent of Police at Bhilwara, said.
Mahawer added that a 3000-strong police force — in mobile units, vans and motorcycles — along with forces like the State Disaster Response Fund, were patrolling the streets to ensure zero mobility.