Updated: April 1, 2020 9:00:43 am
On March 12, a 45-year-old man returned from Oman from a business trip and after landing at Delhi airport, he took a bus the same day to his hometown Ramganj — a densely-populated locality inside the Walled City of Jaipur, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The next day, he met a friend, also a resident of the locality, and several other acquaintances. According to his friend, the man also spent time at the local market.
A fortnight later, 12 people from Ramganj have tested positive for COVID-19, including the man who travelled to Oman, his friend and 10 family members of the friend.
These 12 cases form the majority of 21 positive cases reported from Jaipur. A curfew is in place in the entire locality and other parts of the Walled City.
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“The man with travel history to Oman was under home-quarantine but he did not follow it. We will go door-to-door to check everyone for symptoms and to ramp up testing,” Additional Chief Secretary, Health, Rohit Kumar Singh told The Indian Express.
The man who visited Oman, however, denied that he was asked to stay at home. “After I landed in Delhi, airport authorities screened me but nobody told anything about staying at home.”
Officials from state health department agree that a widespread outbreak inside Walled City will be difficult to contain owing to its large population.
“I met him the day after he arrived from Oman. He seemed absolutely fine. He met several other friends and we also spent some time in the market,” the friend of the man told The Indian Express.
The health department has deployed 25 teams to screen people for possible transmission.
A survey by the department also revealed that after returning from Oman, the man met at least 53 people — some of whom were from other areas of Jaipur.
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“Ever since the man tested positive, we have surveyed 14,982 houses inside the Walled City and screened around 77,000 people. We are doing all we can to prevent a large outbreak as the area is densely populated,” said Dr Narottam Sharma, Chief Medical and Health Officer, Jaipur.
He said one of the challenges the department is facing is the reluctance of local residents to cooperate. “At many places, locals are not cooperating and we have to make an extra effort to convince them for screening. Several doctors and medical staff have complained to us,” said Sharma.
Policemen have been deployed in the area in large numbers.
Local residents say some of them are trying to convince others to undergo screening. “We are trying to sensitise people and urging them to allow screening and cooperate with the health officials. We are also helping them get supplies amidst the curfew,” said Mohammed Afzal, one of the residents of the Walled City.
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