The Bhilwara way of curbing the spread of Covid-19 (other States can take a cue)

Tue, 2020-04-21 17:46 -- SCC India Staff


As the number of Covid-19 infected continues to rise across India, the Bhilwara region of Rajasthan, which was once a potential hotspot for the deadly disease, has not reported a single positive Covid-19 case in the past few days. With 27 cases just a few days back, Bhilwara was the worst-affected district in Rajasthan.Of the total 27 cases, two have succumbed to death, 17 recovered and remaining are on their road to recovery. Bhilwara, a textile town, was the epicenter of coronavirus in Rajasthan until aggressive containment measures taken by the district administration limited the spread of the virus.

Pointing to the Bhilwara example, Rajiv Gauba, Union Cabinet Secretary suggested this as a possible model to curb the spread of Covid-19.

How did Bhilwara manage
The borders of Bhilwara were sealed for private vehicles. Trains passed through, but did not stop in the district. Bus services were not allowed to function. Instructions were given to close all establishments employing more than 10 people. So, everything from industries to offices and brick kilns were shut down.

Currently, healthcare professionals, security professionals, police and government officials and every other individual related to the screening of Covid-19 patients are working round the clock.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said, “People with travel history or any contact with positive patients are being isolated and checked. We sealed the borders the day we got to know about the case of the doctor in Bangar Hospital being positive.”

The Brijesh Bangar Memorial Hospital in Bhilwara had become the center of Covid-19 cases. Doctors and other healthcare workers had tested positive. The doctors had seen around 7,000 to 8,000 patients in the hospital.

The next step, as per Rajendra Bhatt, District Collector, Bhilwara, was a massive screening exercise that covered every household in the district. He said, “We had to identify the patients who had been to Bangar Hospital and the doctors’ home clinics. We also wanted a watchlist of people with influenza symptoms and also those in the high-risk category—such as people who had returned from abroad, the elderly and those with other ailments such as high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes.” (Hear Rajendra Bhatt tell us about his experience of dealing with COVID-19 at our webinar here on April 23rd)

The police reached out to over 5,000 people who were consulted by those doctors. The officials also screened patients of in-patient department (IPD) and Out Patient Department (OPD). In order to break the chain of contamination, nearly 6,000 people were identified in just two days and put under isolation.

Speaking on the Bangar hospital cases, Dr Mushtaq Khan, chief medical and health officer, said, “We worked simultaneously on precaution and treatment. Both were done together to control the outbreak. We are regularly tracking the patients even after we release them. Lockdown has played a major role in breaking the chain.”

Bhatt said 2.5 to 3 million screenings have been done in the past few days and daily reports are being sent to either the district magistrate or superintendent of police.

He added, “We sealed the city and later, all district boundaries were strictly sealed. The population of the city has been screened at least three times now and people having normal cough and cold due to weather change (influenza-like illness), who were in thousands, were also checked and surveyed.”

One step ahead
Till date, more than 3,000 teams carried out door-to-door surveys in three phases, screening close to 11 lakh people in Bhilwara city. In the rural areas, two rounds of screening were carried out by around 2,000 teams, and they surveyed close to 23 lakh people.

Around 7,000 people were quarantined at home or in our isolation facilities. Hotels, hostels, resorts were acquired to set up quarantine facilities with around 14,000 beds. A war room—comprising representatives of the health department, the local administration and the police—was set up to coordinate the containment efforts.

The administration has acquired 42 hospitals with dedicated beds for positive patients, and quarantine with 1,551 beds is prepared at hotels and other such establishments. Places have een identified where if needed, an infrastructure of 10,000 to 15,000 beds can be developed.