Lucknow: On Sunday, 11 April, Uttar Pradesh recorded its highest single-day spike since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic last year — registering 15,353 cases — and capital Lucknow was shown to have contributed around 27 per cent of them.
On 13 April, it emerged that the total number of Covid cases in Lucknow had gone up to 27,385 from 3,912 on 1 April — a jump of nearly 670 per cent — while the active case number for UP climbed to 95,980.
The state health department’s bulletin Monday showed that 72 Covid patients had died in UP in the preceding 24 hours (most of Sunday), of which 21 deaths were in Lucknow. The corresponding figures in Tuesday’s bulletin for the preceding 24 hours were 85 for the state and 18 for the city. However, Ajay Dwivedi, Lucknow’s municipal commissioner, told ThePrint that 69 bodies came to Lucknow’s crematoriums Sunday, leading to a long queue due to the shortage of staff.
Dwivedi said that while some staff are away at the Kumbh Mela, others have been “scared” to handle these bodies because of the bounce in infections.
“We were handling 7-8 cremations of Covid patients’ bodies on average per day (combined for the two crematoriums). But in the last one week, the number went up to 30 and then 40. Eventually, 69 bodies came for cremation Sunday. We were not prepared for this massive surge as some of our staff has gone to the Kumbh Mela. This is the reason that there was a long queue on the weekend at the cremation grounds,” he said.
‘Things being brought under control’
The rise of Covid deaths in Lucknow was underlined in a video that went viral Sunday, in which Lucknow DM Abhishek Prakash is seen talking to the doctors in a city hospital. “Increase ICUs, put people in isolation, do whatever is possible as you people are experts… Because now, people are dying on the roads,” he said in Hindi.
But Dwivedi assured that the administration had things under control now. “We have now employed 100 people who work in two shifts, day and night. We had already prepared 50 funeral pyres; the staff prepares them at night so there is no queue the next day. There have been no queues waiting Monday,” he claimed.
The commissioner added that wood for the pyres is being brought in on 10 trucks from the Sitapur Road, about 12 km outside the city, every day. “Looking at the numbers, we are preparing five electric crematoriums in the next 10 days, each of which can handle 8-10 bodies a day,” he added.
Yet, when ThePrint visited the two cremation grounds, Gulala Shamshan Ghat and Baikunth Dham, Monday afternoon, contrary to the commissioner’s claims, dozens of families were found waiting in the rising heat to perform the last rites of their loved ones. Almost every hour, a new body arrived for cremation.
Ajay Kumar, 33, whose uncle succumbed to the virus, was waiting, clueless, for his family’s turn. “My mausa ji (maternal aunt’s husband) was sick for a week. He complained of fever and cough, and died within one day of hospitalisation,” he said.
As families said their goodbyes to their loved ones, ghat employees continued to prepare new pyres. An employee at Gulala cremation ground said: “I have never seen a situation like this. I have seen more dead bodies in one week than my whole life.”
People reaching hospital in critical condition
The health machinery in the state capital is in a state of chaos, ThePrint’s visit to the King George’s Medical University, the main Covid facility, showed. A healthcare worker at KGMU said: “The last week has been horrible. People are coming in a critical condition and many of them aren’t surviving.”
Dr D.S. Negi, director-general of UP’s health department, told ThePrint: “This spike can be attributed to Holi when people came from all over the country to their hometowns. The general public’s attitude towards the virus has become too casual.”
Dr M.N. Siddiqi of Integral Medical College concurred. “People have started taking this virus lightly. Even if you go to the market, 50 per cent of the people don’t wear a mask. Healthcare workers are now getting infected in bulk. The second wave is more lethal as the jump in critical patients has gone up to 50 per cent.”
Most of the government and private hospitals in the city are full. But now many of these hospitals are turning their isolation wards into ICUs to accommodate critical patients, as people from neighbouring districts are also coming to Lucknow.
Yogi govt’s decisions
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath reviewed the Covid situation in the state and its capital Sunday, where he ordered the closure of all government and private schools till 30 April. The state government has also shut private coaching centres.
The CM directed that Era Medical College, T.S. Mishra Medical College and Integral Medical College should be transformed into Covid hospitals in the next three days. He told the officials to add 2,000 ICU beds in Lucknow in the next day, and add another 2,000 in the next seven days.
All districts of UP have been put under a strict night curfew, beginning at 9 pm. Only people with special passes are allowed to move after that hour.
(Edited by Shreyas Sharma)
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