Door to Door testing, vaccination facility in common service centres, crisis management groups in village and block levels, temporary hiring of nurses and medical staff and provision of Oxygen beds- states are now embarking on this humongous task as part of the Central government’s new strategy to control the spread of Covid in rural India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will dwell more on this strategy while in conversation with the field level officials in the worst-affected districts in the country, including rural areas, on Tuesday as fighting Covid in rural areas in the second wave has now become the top priority of the central government.
The government on Sunday had also issued detailed guidelines to states on containing and managing Covid in rural areas by enhancing healthcare infrastructure and training ASHA and Anganwadi workers. Some of the states with high rural population, like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are already taking steps.
The Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in Madhya Pradesh has already launched a ‘Kill Corona-Part 3’ campaign focusing on rural areas to break the chain of transmission. The state government is sending teams door-to-door to screening, testing people and distributing medicines in villages. MP has formed crisis management groups for 50,846 villages comprising over 5.34 lakh members who accompany such teams in door-to-door visits to encourage villagers to reveal if they have any symptoms, test and start treatment.
The state government is also impressing upon villagers to follow ‘corona curfew’ like in the urban areas, stay indoors and avoid holding any marriages or religious functions, and no hide their symptoms or be afraid of Covid-19. The state government has also set up over 22,000 quarantine centers in rural areas that can accommodate about 2.7 lakh patients for Covid management. One major reason behind Covid spread in villages is marriages and religious gatherings, besides unnecessary assembly of people in the villages.
In Congress-ruled Rajasthan, the state government has decided to temporarily hire over 25,000 nurses and 1000 medical officials for help in Community Health Centers (CHC) in villages and ensure set up of at least 10 ICU and high-flow Oxygen beds in each CHC along with 10 Oxygen Concentrators.
All the district magistrates have started leading teams into villages along with police officials to monitor door-to-door surveys and ensure that lockdown stipulations are followed in villages. Panchayats are being asked to restrict the movement of villagers who are Covid positive and in home isolation and surveillance teams have been asked to speak to such a patient on a daily basis on important of isolation.
Uttar Pradesh has already been conducting a massive testing drive in villages, along with 72,000 surveillance teams comprising four lakh health workers and surveillance committee members going door-to-door in about 97,000 villages to examine persons with symptoms and give them medical kits and medicines. The state is however also gearing up for expansion of vaccination exercise in the villages by making special provisions for priority inoculation of people living in rural areas by facilitating walk-in onsite enrolment for the immunisation programme at the Common Service Centers which will also in turn reduce the burden on the Community Health Centers (CHCs). This step will also help villagers from being registered on Cowin and vaccinated simultaneously at the Common Service Centers rather than having to travel the distance to the Community Health Centers for the same.
UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has been visiting villages this week in various districts for a first-hand experience of how Covid is being fought in the rural parts of the state. UP, along with some other states, are also planning mobile RT-PCR vans in villages for aggressive testing as well as rapid antigen tests to be conducted door-to-door.