Six months since the first Covid-19 case was registered in Chhattisgarh, the state is recording one of the fastest daily growth rates of cases in the country. Between August 29 and September 5, state capital Raipur recorded an average positivity rate of 35.12% — five times the national average of 7%.
With more than 2,500 cases being recorded every day, the state recorded a spike of 3,457 cases on Sunday, with most of the cases being reported from Raipur.
Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel held a meeting with the health department and Health Minister T S Singh Deo on Sunday. One of the decisions taken was to ramp up home isolation.
“The spread is out of our hands now, we are focusing on minimising casualties. Even if I want to impose lockdown in the state, due to the central government’s decisions of opening up, cases won’t be controlled. So we have decided to tackle this head-on,” Baghel said.
“We have a comfortable number of beds, but it is better if those showing minimum symptoms are at home, where they can isolate but be around family. It helps them overcome depression due to fear of Covid while also keeping our healthcare workers focused on those who need urgent medical care,” he added.
Singh Deo said, “We will ramp up testing. The numbers are bound to increase, all we can do is be prepared. The number of those testing positive is more than those getting discharged, so all our facilities will be put to the test. We have asked districts to not refer cases to Raipur. Also, people will have to be careful — they must wear masks, practise distancing. We are trying to detect cases fast while focusing on vulnerable groups.”
Chhattisgarh, which reported 1,000 Covid-19 patients in the first week of June, crossed the 45,000 mark in just three months. Raipur reported more than 16,612 cases till Sunday, of which 6,438 were discharged. Less than a month ago, the state had reported less than 80 deaths, whereas the number now is 380. Five districts have more than 1,000 cases, including Raipur, which has more than 350 containment zones.
Experts said that cases are bound to increase exponentially in the next few weeks, especially in Raipur. “There was a false sense of lull among people as unlocking began. With several events in the past month for farming-related festivals and launch of government schemes, more people started stepping out and flouting norms. Police did ramp up checking, but it was not enough,” a senior district-level officer said.
As districts and businesses opened, the number of people on roads increased, but policing could not increase proportionately due to lack of personnel, which led to spread of the disease, experts said.
According to Raipur Collector S Bharatidasan, Covid care centres are being reserved for those who are unable to home isolate. “The government has relaxed home isolation norms. We are also giving prophylactic kits to family members of those testing positive. Awareness campaigns and distribution of masks and sanitisers is being done. We are trying to manage the spread and encouraging people to stay at home,” he said.
In Raipur, infections have been reported among several senior IAS and IPS officers, as well as in the CM’s house and secretariat. Police stations have been contained. The Raipur municipal corporation has seen several zonal commissioners go into isolation after getting infected.
“We are working with our existing force and have asked for help from district authorities for at least static duties. We are running surveillance and manning our Covid care centres along with sanitisation and manning of containment zones,” a municipal officer from Raipur said.
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