Zone of comfort: Three Maharashtra districts keep coronavirus at bay

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Published: April 24, 2020 2:45 PM

Administrations in these districts have ascribed the result to early preventive steps taken in view of the COVID-19 threat, strict adherence to social distancing, tracing and isolating people who have entered their jurisdiction from abroad and other parts of the state and citizen cooperation.

COVID-19 crisis, Maharashtra districts, Vidarbha districts, ICMR, social distancing, Wardha, Gadchiroli districts,COVID-19 cases,latest news on coronavirus outbreakThe religious congregation had emerged as a key source of the coronavirus spread in the country.

Dark clouds of the COVID-19 crisis have been hovering over hotspots like Mumbai and Pune in Maharashtra, but then there are also azure skies covering its Wardha, Bhandara and Gadchiroli districts which have not reported a single positive case of the infection yet.

Administrations in these districts have ascribed the result to early preventive steps taken in view of the COVID-19 threat, strict adherence to social distancing, tracing and isolating people who have entered their jurisdiction from abroad and other parts of the state and citizen cooperation.

At the same time, the administrators of these Vidarbha districts said they are not being oblivious of the threat, but more vigilant every day in the face of the big challenge the disease has posed worldwide. When asked about the steps taken, Wardha District Collector Vivek Bhimanwar said the authorities swung into action by closing down educational institutes, swimming pools and clubs early in March and sealed district borders tightly. He said in line with the stress of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on social distancing to contain the spread of the coronavirus, the district administration identified crowded places and quickly decongested them.

Expounding his point, Bhimanwar said the authorities decongested a big market in Wardha at 18 places. Likewise, they allotted time slots on different days to ration card holders to pick their quota of food grains from public distribution system (PDS) shops. We cannot stop goods movement to the district completely. But at our level, we stopped vegetables coming from the adjoining districts

To avoid scarcity, we linked the wholesalers with farmers directly. Hence, there was no shortage (of food items), he told PTI over the phone. Bhimanwar said the administration has been keeping a vigil on those who have come to Wardha from abroad and other districts. We identified around 16,500 people coming to the district from Mumbai and Pune and also 192 who came from abroad and isolated them, he said. Similarly, Bhimanwar said 22 individuals from Wardha, who had attended the religious congregation the Tablighi Jamaat had organised in Delhi last month, were traced within seven-eight hours and isolated.

The religious congregation had emerged as a key source of the coronavirus spread in the country. We took their samples and fortunately, all of them tested negative. We kept a watch on them so that they did not mix with the other local people, he said.

Mindful of neighbouring Nagpur, Amravati and Yavatmal districts reporting COVID-19 cases, the official said the authorities are not taking any chance and are engaged in house-to-house surveys. We have also got 61 labour camps, in which 8,800 migrant workers are living right now. Fortunately, no positive case has been reported till date. “But we are taking care and next one month will be a challenge again, he added.

Bhandara District Collector M J Pradip Chandren, too, said to have taken prompt steps in anticipation of the crisis. He talked about shutting down hotels, industries and schools in a phased manner a few days before the nationwide lockdown came in force (on March 25) and stopping movement on small roads by erecting wooden barricades.

The official said the administration carried out door-to-door surveys in the district, which has a population of around 13 lakh, and added that the fourth round of such inspection is on right now. We prepared the list of who came from abroad, who came from other districts and who are showing symptoms (anyone having fever, cough, running nose). We kept a watch on these three groups. We kept a lot of people under home quarantine. Even now, the figure is 11,000 (of people who are under home quarantine).

“We were very strict about the quarantine and even VIPs were kept under observation, Chandren said. Chandren also said to have studied in detail the first 50 positive cases reported in Maharashtra and decided the course of Bhandara administrations actions accordingly. He, however, praised the local administration and citizens for their support in ensuring there were no positive cases in the district till date. Gadchiroli District Collector Deepak Singla could not be reached for his comments despite repeated attempts.

According to the Maharashtra government, Washim district reported one positive case as of April 23, but the patient has now tested negative and will be discharged. Hence, there is no positive case in Washim too, it said on Friday. As of April 23, Sindhudurg, Parbhani, Beed, Nanded and Gondia districts have reported one positive case each.

Maharashtra has reported 6,427 positive cases and 283 deaths till Thursday. Of these, Mumbai has reported 4,205 positive cases and 167 deaths — highest in the state. Pune is second in terms of COVID-19 cases and fatalities in the state. According to the state government, 840 coronavirus-infected people have recovered and discharged from hospitals as of Thursday.

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