Outlining the containment policy for the 121 hotspots, spread across 15 districts of Uttar Pradesh, the state government on Friday said that one magistrate and one police officer would be in charge of each of the hotspots that were sealed from Wednesday midnight.
During the review of the situation with the heads of 11 committees set up in view of the lockdown, imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath ordered strict monitoring of suspected cases of the coronavirus in the hotspots.
Stating that 75 per cent of the 433 coronavirus cases in the state were from the 121 hotspots, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Kumar Awasthi said, “Each of the hotspots will be barricaded. Vehicles and people will be challaned if they are found moving in the area. Exemption will be given to take newspapers the hotspots, which needs to be arranged before hand.”
“If the containment exercise is successful, then we might be able to control the further spread of the virus,” he added.
According to the government, an estimated population of 5.31 lakh is residing in the hotspots, identified so far. “In these hotspots, 265 doorstep delivery of food and 446 vegetable delivery were ensured this Friday,” Awasthi said.
The government also said that even as 50 lakh litre milk is being produced in the state on a daily average, 33 lakh litre has been distributed through door-to-door delivery of essential items. The government also said that 80 per cent of the total 3.50 crore ration card holders — about 2.75 crore — have been distributed ration, till date.
Ramping up testing facilities in the hotspots as well as in other affected districts of the state, Awasthi said that Chief Minister ordered monitoring of western UP and opening of testing facilities in Noida, Greater Noida and Saharanpur. “During the review meeting, the Chief Minister also instructed that sample collection centres be opened in each of the 75 districts in the state,” he added. He also said that on the instructions of Chief Minister, wearing of masks has now been made mandatory in the state and orders have been issued to take action against people who would not cover their face while leaving their houses. “If people do not have face masks, then they can use cloth or gamcha or a dupatta for covering their faces,” said Awasthi.
“In some cases, it has been observed that social distancing was not being followed in banks and ration shops. Therefore, the Chief Minister has directed to take strict action where social distancing is not being maintained,” Awasthi added.
In Lucknow, the district administration, with the help of local vendors, has started home-delivery of essential items to 12 hotspots in the district. However, some residents said that the volume and frequency of deliveries had reduced.
“We are also getting help from municipal corporation employees. They receive deliveries at the barricades and deliver them to houses. This has been done across the city. We have arranged essential items on a local level. The milk vehicle reaches every area in the morning followed by vegetable carts. Most people can buy essentials from shops within their area,” said Additional District Magistrate of Trans Gomti area, Vishwa Bhushan Mishra.
Muzaffar Khan (48), a resident of Qaiserbagh in Lucknow which is one of the hotspots, said that people stocked up foodgrain and other essentials on Wednesday, the day when the state government listed containment zones banning entry and exit. “I don’t think there will be any need for foodgrains in the area in the coming days. The administration is ensuring that local vendors come to the area and sell vegetables. For now, everyone has enough for a week or more. So, we haven’t called the helpline numbers for ration. If we do, then we will see about it later,” said Khan.
Another resident of Triveni Nagar, another containment zone, concurred with Khan. “Milk, vegetable, bread and other essential service vendors have been coming to the neighbourhood. Although their numbers have gone down, they are ensuring that the area has sufficient food,” said the resident, who did not wish to be identified.
In Lucknow’s Sadar area, Vikas Gupta (45) said a few days ago, vegetables were selling at higher prices due to supply shortage. “But now the administration has ensured vegetable supplies. We are getting food items delivered. However, some vegetable vendors are still overcharging,” said Gupta.
Meanwhile, apprehension and chaos prevailed in the containment zones in Noida with thousands of families behind locked gates complaining that arrangements for delivery of essential items were inadequate.
According to residents, long queues were seen at society gates as people queued up to buy vegetables, fruits and milk. Since the societies are sealed, no one except health and district administration officials are allowed to enter or exit the areas.
While in some societies, online suppliers are being allowed till individual towers, some residents said some vendors declined citing logistical difficulties. Locals also claimed that many of the vendor contacts given by the administration are non-functional.
“There is chaos since a lot of people are gathering at the society gates for supplies. Few delivery companies have told us they will not deliver due to logistical problems. If a system is not devised soon, not only will supplies run out, but there will be quarrels too,” said a resident of a society in Sector 137, where three members of a family were found positive.
While the administration informed RWAs that fruit and vegetable vendors will be stationed at the gates of the societies, and other essential deliveries shall not be stopped, locals alleged that the supplies were sporadic.
Officials said they are working towards streamlining the system. “Late Thursday night, police and administration officials visited each hotspot to ensure that residents get all essential supplies. We have tied up with local grocery stores and medical shops for this. Fruits and vegetable vendors have been stationed at the gates and supply of milk too has been ensured. We are trying to minimise inconvenience,” said Suhas LY, DM Gautam Buddh Nagar.
“We are trying to figure out a mechanism in which societies that can manage deliveries till within the tower will be allowed to do so. At this point, we will have to look at the area and number of people at each hotspot and devise a plan accordingly,” he added.
In Noida, a majority of the 64 reported coronavirus cases have been linked to a fire safety firm in Sector 135.
According to medical officials, the screening process in the hotspots will remain the same as before and teams will take feedback on symptoms from residents in the area. In each zone, there have been at least two cases.
In housing societies in Sector 137 and Sector 100, among others, the quarantine period of 14 days has already ended and the administration believes that the chances of more cases from these areas are low. A tight vigil remains for others. According to officials, the cases have been limited to either the fire safety firm or those with travel history, and their immediate contacts. They have ruled out any instance of community transmission for now.
“At this point it seems that the chain of cases that had begun with the first fire safety firm official will cease in the coming few days. Due to our extensive screening, we had identified family members who had tested positive. With that link breaking, the cases will go down as well. The teams will be calling up families to track symptoms and samples will be taking accordingly,” said Dr Anurag Bhargava of the Gautam Budh Nagar Health Department.
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