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At 17 cases, strict measures in Wardha makes it Maharashtra’s least-affected district

The district’s Covid-19 containment measures have come in the backdrop of the fact that it was surrounded by big coronavirus hotspots like Nagpur, Amravati, Yavatmal, and Chandrapur, which together have close to 2,500 cases so far.

Written by Vivek Deshpande | Nagpur | Published: July 5, 2020 11:17:01 am
Mumbai missing covid-19 deaths Of the 17 positive cases, 12 have been successfully treated and only four are still under treatment. (Express photo by Nirmal Harindran/Representational)

Even as the countrywide lockdown to contain the spread of Covid-19 completes 100 days on Friday, one district in Maharashtra that stands out with impressive numbers is Wardha, mostly due to strictly enforced measures. The district remains least affected in the state with 17 cases to date.

The district, with a population of over 18 lakh, has only one death on record of a woman from Hivra Tanda village in Arvi tehsil on May 8. Over 55,000 people have so far been quarantined and over 4,546 tests have been conducted. Of the 17 positive cases, 12 have been successfully treated and only four are still under treatment.

The district’s Covid-19 containment measures have come in the backdrop of the fact that it was surrounded by big coronavirus hotspots like Nagpur, Amravati, Yavatmal, and Chandrapur, which together have close to 2,500 cases so far.

Apart from other measures prescribed by central and state governments from time to time, the district administration employed its own initiatives. “The most important one was identifying 112 entry points into the district, including 17 major roads, and guarding them to regulate entries,” said Collector Vivek Bhimanwar, adding, “while the major roads were manned by police and home guards , other entry points were guarded by staff sourced from other departments and also civilians drawn from villages near those spots.”

He further said, “The other important step was to screen goods vehicles entering the city since they can be potential carriers. We created unloading points at entries. The goods would then be further transported to designated places by local drivers after being sanitised. The drivers and conductors from outside were not allowed to mix with local residents.”

“For big companies, where the number of vehicles coming in is large, they are supposed to create their own unloading points inside their premises and follow the same set of rules,” Bhimanwar said.

The same arrangement has been mandatory for Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees (APMC). “With this, we managed to isolate about 12,000 to 15,000 people coming into the city since about 7,000 to 8,000 small and big vehicles come in daily,” he said, claiming that this regimen was conceived and implemented by the district administration and “is unique to Wardha district”.

The next important measure undertaken by the district administration was to home quarantine entire families even if one member joined them from outside the district. “We had over 50,000 people coming to the city from other places, mainly Mumbai and Pune. This helped in keeping the infection within the family for the 16 people who did test positive,” Bhimanwar said, adding, “the families would get regular phone-ins from call centres to check their quarantine status. We have deployed 1,150 surveillance teams, comprising ASHA workers, anganwadi sevikas and teachers, to monitor adherence to quarantine norms. We also installed CCTV cameras in three containment zones to keep vigil against those venturing out of quarantine.”

Another exercise undertaken by the administration was to conduct a six-minute walk test in three containment zones of the city to check if anyone had breathing problems, so the person could be immediately tested for Covid-19.

“We found four such persons. Fortunately, their Covid-19 tests were negative,” the collector said.

Wardha district has two major hospitals, Vinoba Bhave Medical College and Hospital at Savangi (Meghe) and Kasturba Gandhi Medical College and Hospital at Sevagram, where hundreds of patients come directly from outside the district. “Most of our positive cases have come from such people,” Bhimanwar said.

Apart from these measures, the district administration also took action against violators of lockdown and quarantine norms, collecting Rs 50.34 lakh in penalty amount over the past 100 days. Over 129 shops were sealed.

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