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No new Covid-19 case in 4 days, Bhilwara could offer lessons in fight against pandemic

Bhilwara had emerged as one of the key hotspots in the country but strict lockdown measures and ample testing have so far helped contain the spread.

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New Delhi: Even as the number of Covid-19 cases in India have doubled from 1,024 to 2,088 (as of 3 April) over the past four days, there have been no new cases at Bhilwara during this period, indicating that the tough containment measures in a key hotspot are helping.

The last coronavirus case in Bhilwara was reported on 30 March when the total positive cases in the district were 26 with two deaths. Of the 24 active positive cases, 13 have already turned negative, Rajendra Bhat, the Bhilwara district magistrate, said in his daily video briefing on 2 April.

Since the detection of new cases in Jaipur has brought its count to 39 as of 2 April, Bhilwara is no longer the Covid-19 epicentre in Rajasthan.

According to the district administration, of the 6,800 people who were home quarantined, only 2,500 are left with the remaining having completed their two weeks of quarantine.

Bhilwara had enforced a curfew and sealing of the district borders since 20 March before the national lockdown, after the detection of Covid-19 cases among doctors and staff of the popular private hospital, Brijesh Banger Memorial Hospital on 19 March.

Since then the administration quarantined high risk contacts of the hospital staff members, patients and their families. It also conducted a door-to-door screening of 28 lakh population to detect any signs of community transmission.

Its strict containment measures may give clues to stopping local transmission in smaller geographies.

Also read: One in India’s five Covid-19 patients is linked to Tablighi Jamaat and its Delhi event

Bhilwara’s bold moves

Unlike other cities, Bhilwara had enforced a strict curfew only allowing milk shops and medical stores to stay open while the administration home-delivered ration, fruit and vegetable supplies through local booths.

Between 3 April and 13 April, the city will enforce a maha curfew, the Bhilwara public relations officer, Pawnesh Sharma, said in his address. There will be a stricter curfew with even milk and medicines to be supplied through home delivery so that no one steps out of their house. Other than those catering to essential services, no one will be allowed on the street and the previously issued curfew passes will be cancelled, he said.

A 3000-strong police force is enforcing the curfew in mobile units, vans and motorcycles apart from other forces like SDRF and home guards, Harendra Kumar, the superintendent of police, said in his video briefing.

Testing more

Bhilwara had followed a different testing protocol based on the fact that almost all cases detected were associated with the private hospital. So anyone who had been to the hospital in the last month could be tested for Covid-19, apart from those who were screened after a door-to-door survey and those who were referred by doctors.

The number of samples tested increased from 69 on 22 March to 1,494 as of 1 April. At the current rate, Bhilwara accounts for 20 per cent of the samples tested in Rajasthan.

“We are testing 300-400 samples every day and aim to achieve 4,000 in the next 10 days,” Sharma said.

The district that had to send samples 250 km to Jaipur, will also get its own testing setup by the weekend, which will reduce the time taken for results, Sharma said.

Also read: Locked down and anxious, more and more Indians are making panic calls, seeking therapy


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