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Lockdown 2.0 : Bhilwara & Kasargod Lockdown Models Helped Rajasthan & Kerala To Fight Covid-19 Spread

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On 31st December 2019, the world came to know about COVID-19. Since then the disease has infected lakhs of people and caused thousands of deaths across the world. Just as the WHO declared it as a pandemic, countries across the world started to employ various strategies to contain this disease. The Indian government had declared a 21-day countrywide lockdown and the entire country is waiting with bated breath to see which model will be employed for containment. 

It is worth noting that India responded early to the crisis. It restricted foreign travel, screened at airports, and sealed its borders well in time. Due to these precautionary measures, we were able to delay the onset of the disease in India. When the disease did raise its head in India, we were able to do effective contact tracing. When it felt like clusters of cases were appearing, the government wasted no time in imposing a lockdown. While there is sufficient concern around the unorganised migrant labourers and lack of adequate testing, one cannot discount the early sound steps taken by the government and the cooperation that its citizens have extended to it. We have been able to bring the doubling rate of the virus down to 7 days. If there was no lockdown, epidemiologists estimate that at least 53,000 would have been affected right now as opposed to the 9,000 odd people that are in fact affected.

Officially we have entered into second period of lockdown till May 3 rd, we know that our country, being an economically weak one, cannot have a complete lockdown for more time. Yet, the need to have a containment strategy is paramount. In different parts of the world, different containment strategies have been used. While Singapore and Hongkong did not use a very stringent containment strategy due to their 2002-2003 SARS outbreak experience they were able to keep it under control. China, on the other hand, went in for a very stringent lockdown model which was effective in containing the disease.

India is a democratic country where we cannot impose stringent lockdown restrictions especially since there are very severe economic consequences to a lockdown. At this juncture, it is very apparent that India is using its vast experience in public health. ICMR has conducted various studies to understand the spread of the disease apart from the COVID-19 tests going on. While we know how other countries are using different containment strategies, we also have successful examples in the way Bhilwara in Rajasthan and Kasargod in Kerala have stymied the spread of the virus.

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Bhilwara Model

In Bhilwara, Rajasthan the first case was reported on March 18 and within 3 days it had become a hotspot with 10 cases. A doctor with a private practice who used to see thousands of patients had tested positive for COVID-19 on March 20 and hence the administration did not waste any time and did ruthless containment. Mr Rajendra Bhatt the district magistrate of Bhilwara said,

“The situation was very delicate, it was absolutely imperative that we do ruthless containment else the disease could have spread very quickly in our district. We did not want that at any cost.”, reported Economic Times. 

Rajasthan sealed its borders and all the hotspots within the Bhilwara district were further completely quarantined. The administration supplied the essentials, imposed a strict curfew and simultaneously worked on both treatment and prevention. All the inpatient and outpatient departments’ (IPD, OPD) patients and the patients seen at the clinic by the infected doctor, in the Bhangar hospital, were surveyed and quarantined. The district administration acquired over 42 hospitals and 10 hotels to create a quarantine facility with a capacity of 1551 beds. Measures were also taken to ensure that, should the need arise, another 10,000-15,000 beds could be easily arranged. Over 22 lakh people were screened in this district. Some of them were screened more than once. With all these efforts, Bhilwara, which had previously reported 27 cases, has not reported a single new positive case since April 3. 

Kasargod Model

Kasargod, Kerala emerged as India’s biggest hotspot on March 25. The problem that the administration faced was the lack of cooperation of the residents, with the government and civic authorities. There were reports of a resident who had travelled to the Middle east many times in the last 100 days, having exposed at least 1500 people by not quarantining himself. IG Vijay Sakhare had to issue orders saying all those defying the lockdown orders would be caned. Speaking to News 18 Mr Sajith Kumar, the district collector, said, “ As locals were not cooperating, we had to issue orders to impound passports and to even seal intervillage transport.” Thus the administration successfully sealed off the hotspot completely. 

All the essentials such as medicines, groceries, fruits and vegetables were supplied by the police. Other than this many services are being provided by the police. During this time residents were allowed to consult doctors through video consultation. Thousands of residents who travelled abroad and their primary contacts were put under self-quarantine and surveillance. Drones are being used to monitor the surveillance in order to avoid anybody violating the lockdown and quarantine. Here also the state and district administration acquired hospitals and medical supplies were brought from Thiruvananthapuram to set up a quarantine facility in Kasargod itself. Random testing for community spread has begun and so far all 100 samples have tested negative, indicating that there is no community spread so far. The results are there for all to see, as the curve in Kasargod has clearly started to flatten out.

Unlike the Prime Minister’s address on 23rd March 2020, when Prime Minister Modi said, “Jaan hai to Jahaan hai”  (if life is there world will be there), on April 14 th address to the nation. He also said  “Jaan Bhi Jahaan Bhi (meaning life also world also)” will be taken care of during the extended lockdown i.e till May 3rd.

The affected districts are classified as Red, Orange and Green zones. The red zones are to be completely sealed while the safe zones i.e., green zones would have partial relaxation. In big metros such as Hyderabad, Delhi, Bangalore etc., we might have multiple zones and thus we might see partial relaxation in some areas within the city. Economic Times has reported today that in green zones we will be able to see increased economic activity. Apart from industries in SEZ and Agri related services and sub-services, MNREGA and other self-employed service providers such as carpenters, plumbers etc.,  are to be allowed as well. You can see detailed guidelines here. This has been implemented in parts in Hyderabad and Delhi and is yielding good results, reported by NDTV. This is very close to the Bhilwara model.

Such a national lockdown model based on Bhilwara and Kasargod model is essential. This would ensure that we are able to carry on some essential economic activity, try to have a semblance of a normal life while trying to tide over the COVID-19 crisis.

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Goonj Is Working With 1000’s Of Volunteers & Partner NGOs To Provide Covid-19 Relief In 18 States

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With the extension of the lockdown the crisis of migrant labourers and daily wagers has just grown bigger due to uncertainty and fear of future. In the migrant colonies, slums and for people in the villages hunger and desperation is building up day by day. This is high time we step up our efforts to support our people who are in dire need of food and hygiene essentials to survive the pandemic, Covid-19.

After the India-wide lockdown, a lot of jobless migrant workers are stuck in cities with hardly any resources while many started retreating back to their villages. With the loss of livelihoods, a large number of them are now struggling to support their families.

Goonj activated its pan India teams and a pan India network of partner organizations and volunteers in urban and rural India. This network, built over the last two decades, helps them learn from the ground, reach material quickly and review and adapt strategy periodically. Intensifying this network has helped Goonj reach and start work across 17produced states/UT in the last three weeks.
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Goonj’s focus: 

Majority of the Covid-19 relief work by non profits right now is in the metros and cities but Goonj is the only non profit that is also simultaneously focusing on the people in the villages and the ones stuck on highways or somewhere.

Goonj is targeting daily wagers, migrants and other vulnerable groups, who even traditionally are left out like the disabled, sex workers, LGBTQ community.

“COVID-19 is a crisis, yes…But, it’s also an opportunity for us to build the society anew. Not ‘for’ the people…but, ‘with’ the people. And in the process, we will build ourselves too.” – Anshu Gupta, Founder-Director, Goonj.

Direct Monetary and Material Transfer

Wherever Goonj got the permission to open their centres for packing and disbursement of relief material kits, they are creating a kit consisting of 20-30 kgs material including dry rations, masks, sanitary pads and other hygiene material and reaching them to people, as per needs and as per regulations with all safety precautions. This kit will help a family survive for 30 days.

Information till 10th April 2020:

  • Distributed 15,100 ration kits reaching thousands of people
  • Reached 17,700 families
  • Supporting 12 community kitchen across India with 16,600kgs of ration
  • 77,800 food packets provided to migrant laborers and daily wagers walking on the roads across the country.
  • Provided direct financial support to 32 organisations
  • Made 42,800 cloth face masks
  • 24,900 cloth sanitary napkins produced
  • Produced 1500 litres of organic sanitiser

In Goonj’s processing centers its trained team of women are making cloth face masks and cloth sanitary pads (MY-Pads), keeping all the precautions and with the permission and cooperation of the local authorities.

In this lock-down phase if you are facing any difficulty getting sanitary pads or you are running out of stock, here’s a detailed but very simple process of making Cloth Pads at home created by Goonj. “This is how we make Goonj MY Pads.” This is how our mothers and grandmothers turned their spare cloth into pads.

This disaster, unlike any other, is unprecedented in its scale and impact and that’s why we all must do our bit with Goonj to continue its relief work for millions of people in this still unfolding long-tailed disaster.

The need is huge.. We are there.. Need You too !!

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It's not how much we give
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- Mother Theresa Quote
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