The good news is that Dang, which is Gujarat’s 100% tribal district, hasn’t reported a COVID-19 case yet. But the worrying news is that among the five districts that have not yet reported any COVID-19 cases, it is only in Dang where not a single case of influenza-like illness (ILI) or severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) was recorded in any of its public or private health institutions as of Tuesday, according to the state health department data.
On April 10, when the state had 14 districts unaffected by COVID-19, the state health department announced that a high-powered committee has decided to take at least 100 samples from zero-case districts to be doubly sure that these areas are indeed free of novel coronavirus infection. Among the total 6,109 SARI cases notified across private and public health institutions in the state, samples of 5,070 of such cases were taken. Of them, 405 or eight percent of the SARI cases tested, turned to be COVID-19 positive.
Dang district collector NK Damor said they have tested 119 samples till date with all returning negative.
“It is true that we have not come across any SARI or ILI cases. We have 10 Public Health Centres across the district and 56-sub-centres while among
Gujarat’s concern: Dang has zero Covid, or influenza-like case private facilities there are only some private practitioners and no IMA branch or super specialty hospital, he said.
“An advantage of our geography is that 75% of the district is reserved forest land and the tribal population reside in considerable distance, with no densely populated clusters,” Damor said.
“Our major disadvantage as a district is the fact that at least 60,000 to 70,000 move out to other districts for work… Around Holi there is a ‘mela’ when they come back. We knew that this may become a problem and at the time we had carried out surveillance by forming village-level committees of approximately seven members, including the sarpanch,” said Damor.
As on April 21, while at least 83 per cent of the SARI cases notified were tested across Gujarat, of the more than 25,000 ILI cases notified across public and private health institutions, only about 15 percent of them were tested, according to health department data.
The other districts that have so far not reported any COVID-19 cases are Surendranagar, Junagadh, Devbhoomi Dwarka, Dang and Amreli.
In Devbhumi Dwarka, all the 116 people with ILI and 61 with SARI were tested and none were found carrying coronavirus. In Junagadh too, which reported 180 ILI and 64 SARI cases from rural and municipal corporation jurisdiction, 232 were tested. None were tested positive for coronavirus.
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