Till March 18, Rajasthan’s Bhilwara district had no confirmed Coronavirus cases. By March 30, there were 26. Bhilwara was on top of the state’s list of 10 major hotspots for Covid-19 with 12 of the total 18 cases at one point.
Only one case has been reported since March 30. What happened?
When the first case in Rajasthan was reported on March 2, strict actions were taken in the state on that day itself. As many as 3,000 teams of state health personnel were deployed to test people for Covid-19 symptoms.
“Nearly 5 crore people have been screened and 1 crore 17 lakh household have been tested till now. Things were also controlled with imposition of curfew and today, 34 places are under curfew in Rajasthan,” chief minister Ashok Gehlot said.
Gehlot said that 22 lakhs families from villages and nearly 10 lakh households in the city were tested and that's how Bhilwara is today a template for measures to fight Covid-19. Of the 27 cases, 17 have been cured, of which 13 have been discharged.
The state’s nimble response to the crisis is now being called “the Bhilwara model”.
Gehlot said when a person tests positive for Covid-19, the area where he or she lives is sealed and people living within a 2km radius are tested. “People with travel history or any contact with positive patients are being isolated and checked. The only worry is of people who are coming out positive and have no history of either travel or contact,” he added.
“We worked on precaution and treatment, both were done together to control the outbreak. The main task was to identify the relatives of the first patient and isolate them. I would say that it was done on a war-footing level and everything got under control at the right time,” Dr Mushtaq Khan, chief medical health officer, said.
Khan said that that today Bhilwara is standing strong and the lockdown has played a major role in checking the spread. To break the chain of contamination, nearly 6,000 people were identified and put under isolation within two days of the outbreak. A curfew was imposed within 15 minutes without disrupting the supply of food and other essentials in the district.
“We have deployed corona fighters in villages who are led by the corona captain, the SDM. They submit daily reports on the screenings in rural areas and if there is any sign of community spread. I can proudly say that as of now, the numbers have gone down and each and every department is working together to fight this pandemic,” Rajendra Bhatt, district magistrate, Bhilwara, said.
“We have extended a total shutdown for a few more days and people will get everything they need at their doorstep. No shop, dairy, the medical store will be open. If people want something, they will directly call us, whether it is medicine, food or anything else,” he said.
To make sure this happens, at least 4-5 control rooms of several departments are being operated to fulfill demands. “It is a necessary step to control the outbreak and bring out a total Covid-19-free Bhilwara in the coming few days. With the pace we are getting desired results, we will stop this soon,” Bhatt said.
Bhatt explained that the whole district boundaries were strictly sealed. He said that the population of the city was screened at least three times and those with symptoms were put under isolation or quarantine.
“We are now on a war-footing level and working in a 6-part process beginning with the imposition of curfew, coordination work of police surveying colonies where the visitor’s of Bangar Hospital, where it all began, might be staying,” said Harendra Mahawar, superintendent of police (SP), Bhilwara.
The administration has set up dedicated beds for positive patients at 42 hospitals, and 1,551-bed quarantine facilities at hotels and other establishments. Other than that, places have been identified where if needed, an infrastructure of 10,000-15,000 beds can be developed.
Further precautions have been taken by the deputy SP who’s been deployed to take care of sanitising medical staff before they enter the premises or take the duty charge: barricading premises, and checking at entrance gates and deployment of cops at isolation wards. About 25 lakh-30 lakh screenings have been done in the past few days and daily reports are being sent to either the district magistrate or the SP.