Covid-19: IMCT underlines flaws in handling the Indore crisis

Indore, April 25 (IANS) Indore’s plight remains unmitigated 11 days into the second phase of lockdown. The fatality rate in the business capital of Madhya Pradesh has, for almost a fortnight now, stayed at around 5 per cent – 2 per cent above the national average — leaving the medical fraternity, the state administration and the Inter-ministerial Central Team (IMCT) camping in the city worried.

Incidence of coronavirus has picked up over the past 10 days with the positive cases doubling from 530 to 1,085 by Saturday. There have been 56 new cases overnight. A month ago, Indore had not opened its Covid-19 account.

Doctors treating Covid-19 cases in Indore and the Malwa and Nimar regions in western Madhya Pradesh are concerned over the “virulent strain” of the virus that has led to the rapid rise in the number of cases.

“We feel the virus is more virulent in the Indore belt. We have sought help from the National Institute of Virology in Pune. They have agreed to study the virus from culture at other places and compare it by extraction of virus genome,” said Jyoti Bindal, Dean of Government Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Medical College.

“There are various mutated genes,” she added.

“There are other factors also for the (high) fatality rate, like patients turning up late at the hospitals,” Bindal said.

The medical college was also handicapped for want of testing kits from Thursday to Saturday.

The IMCT, which has been in Indore since April 22 to monitor the efforts to combat coronavirus, asked the state administration to identify the hotspots in the city and draw up a special plan for places where 10 or more positive patients have been found.

The team found 20 of the city’s 171 containment zones critical and asked for better enforcement of the lockdown measures. Strangely, the team did not acknowledge the shortage of equipment, as expressed by the doctors on the job. But, polite presentation of many reservations suggests the report could send some heads rolling.

Abhilakshaya Likhi, Additional Secretary to the Central government, asked the officials to draw up a comprehensive plan to improve the health infrastructure and assured of Central assistance for it.

Likhi, who presided over a meeting with local officials and public representatives, said coordinated efforts were needed to deal with the pandemic, and the results should be visible soon.

He admitted that the challenge was big, but the virus had to be eradicated completely and for that, all the prescribed guidelines and protocols have to be followed.

Likhi said that the team will prepare a report about the efforts being made here in combating the dreaded disease. He will send his report both to the state as well as the Central government.

Indore has had to pay heavily for the administrative hiatus from March 5 to 20. The then Health Minister, Tulsiram Silawat, who was monitoring the coronavirus cases almost on an hourly basis to tackle the outbreak, was suddenly off the radar from March 4 and was traced in a tourist resort in Bengaluru.

This was followed by his resignation, which remained unaccepted for almost a week. Silawat, who represented Indore’s Sanwer constituency, had ended his 30-year association with the Congress and raised a banner of revolt against then Chief Minister Kamal Nath.

Silwat was among the 22 Congress MLAs who had revolted and subsequently quit. Silawat is a minister again now, but for another department.

As a major transit corridor, with at least 70 flights touching Indore’s airstrip daily till a month ago, Indore could have been more careful with screening passengers arriving from abroad. Many of those who have tested positive don’t have international travel history though.

The BJP would like to place the blame solely at the door of Tablighi Jamaat whose members arrived from Delhi and suddenly the scene changed. It could be partially true. But as the things have panned out, the government needs to look beyond the party agenda, said a ruling party functionary.

The condition of neighbouring districts of the business capital is even worse on fatality count. In Dewas, six out of the total 22 confirmed cases have died; in Khargone, eight out of 61 and in Ujjain, 11 people out of 102 have succumbed to the virus.

Indore and its three neighbouring districts account for 80 out of the total 99 deaths in MP so far.

–IANS

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