It is easy to note that various groups, leaders and organisations hold different perceptions and opinions on how India has been handling the COVID-19 situation. With the number of active cases standing at 9 lakh, one might argue that the country needs to reevaluate the decision on Unlock 5 and keep the lockdown intact. Yet the number of recovery cases, which is around 51 lakh, tell a different story.
Amidst this statistical chaos, the World Health Organisation (WHO) of South-East Asia published a phenomenal article stating that Odisha in India has managed the pandemic effectively. The hashtag #WorldPraisesOdisha has been doing its rounds on Twitter for the last two days. However, is there any truth to such a claim?
The Report Released By WHO
On their website, the WHO details how despite facing natural disasters, including the recent Amphan cyclone, Odisha has held a recovery rate of 69.4% and a mortality rate of 0.29%. This sounds quite impressive, except that other states such as Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra have had a recovery rate of 85% (as of August) and 77.87% respectively (as of September). These states have had a high number of cases in India.
Hence, the statistics provided have been selectively correlated with other events such as Amphan to draw such a conclusion.
The article mentions how the state also witnessed a migrant influx and then specified how community action was taken by the government and Panchayati Raj to effectively deal with the pandemic. However, these details have also been provided vaguely.
It attributes the government’s resilience to an early lockdown, which was imposed on 13th March along with public health campaigns. A strategic team was laid down, which helped set up the biggest COVID-19 health facility in the country by organising and connecting different hospitals, each assessed based on UN and WHO standards.
It also claims that the state has improved the number of testing labs, used technology, and set up medical camps for migrants. However, towards the end of the article, it is mentioned how the state had the lowest death rate as of 28th June. That’s almost two months ago.
#WorldPraisesOdisha And #OdishaShines
It’s not surprising for governments to use the information on the media that favours them to further their propaganda. The CMO of Odisha tweeted this piece of information, which was then extensively lauded by people.
However, it has also been reported that the cases in Odisha have been rising steadily. As of Tuesday, it came to the 8th position among the top 10 states with the highest number of COVID-19 cases. Although the number, which is around 1.84 lakh cases, has been lower than the other states, the increase is still comparatively high.
The state has been seeing a rise of around 4000 cases each day. The problem arose because the state started easing its restrictions. A health official has also stated that the cases are likely to peak, considering the number of asymptomatic cases that went undetected.
Is The Praise Unwarranted?
It would be highly demeaning to put down the efforts of the state since it has taken good efforts in trying to contain the virus. However, the kind of optimism surrounding this development has hindered people from seeing reality. The statistics provided by the WHO are months old and other states in India have also taken such preemptive measures to contain the virus.
The opposition parties, Congress and BJP, have slammed the Naveen Patnaik government in Odisha by alleging that the latter has only “fooled” people with fake statistics. Congress MLA Tara Prasad stated that the praise has not been reflected on the ground level as there have been instances where people have died because they could not arrange beds.
Donald Trump passed a remark in his presidential debate saying that India has been hiding its COVID-19 numbers. The constant tussle in politics, dwindling economy and debate over other issues have made it hard for anyone to believe and trust the government. At such a time, it is better to stay vigilant and not fall prey to a pretense of security from COVID-19, because it is here to stay for a very long time.
Odisha folks, stay safe!
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