AP's Srikakulam town under lockdown again, 60000 migrants return home in total

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With coronavirus numbers on the rise, lockdown has been enforced in Srikakulam town of Andhra Pradesh from Saturday. The Collector declared that for 14 days, Srikakulam district will be under lockdown. Only essential and emergency services will remain open. Shops will be open from 6 am to 1 pm.

In the second week of this month, a partial lockdown was announced in Srikakulam town. There were restrictions in timings and shops were allowed to be open only until 1 pm. With the support of the public, partial lockdown was earlier enforced in Ichchapuram, Palasa, Mandasa, Tekkali, Narasannapeta, Ranasthalam, Rajam and Srikakulam.

Srikakulam district had made it to the news for being coronavirus-free until late April. It is in the last two months that the district has seen a spike in the number of cases. Speaking to TNM, Collector J Nivas said, “Our first case in the district was reported as late as April 24. There was no case before that. Once the lockdown was lifted in June, we had around 700 cases and now in July presently, we have around 2,000 positive cases.”

According to the medical bulletin released on July 18, Srikakulam district has recorded a total of 2,034 COVID-19 cases and 16 people have lost their lives in the district due to the pandemic. 

When asked what is the biggest challenge that the district is facing, Collector Nivas said, “The migrant population is our biggest challenge. Srikakulam district has the highest number of people working as migrant labour in other states. 60,000 people have already reached Srikakulam from states like Telangana, Tamil Nadu and also from other districts in the state. This is the official number, based on those who have crossed through the checkpost. There may be various other means by which they have reached the district, too. Even now, every day, people are returning to Srikakulam from Telangana.”

The Collector mentioned that the district has a high migrant population because a lot of people travel to neighbouring states and districts in search of livelihood. Nivas added, “The agriculture pattern in the district is that they do single-crop cultivation due to lack of water resources for a second crop. From December, they have no work, and that is when they move to other states for work. A lot of people go to Gujarat and other states for fishing by around September. A big chunk of the migrant workers are fishermen returning from Chennai and Gujarat.”

Speaking about the arrangements in the district, the Collector said the administration is well prepared. He said, “We have three COVID Care Centres, we are increasing that to four now. These can accommodate around 3,000 people. Around 200 people are in home isolation. We have 1,700 beds in hospitals out of which 1,100 are beds with oxygen lines and 164 ICUs. We want hospitals to cater to only critical patients. Currently, we have around 20-30% vacancy in hospitals, ideally it should be 50%. The pressure is building and hence we want to reduce the inflow into hospitals. Arranging for beds in hospitals is not the challenge, arranging medical staff and doctors is the real challenge.” 

Srikakulam town is following a 50:30:20 strategy to tackle the virus. 50% of the patients are in home isolation. 30% are in COVID Care Centres and 20% are admitted in hospitals. The administration is hoping to ramp up testing and has introduced various surveys and schemes to detect cases early and help people recover fast.

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