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Elets Exclusive | Initiatives by Churu to combat COVID-19

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Sandesh Nayak, Collector & District Magistrate, Churu

Cities have been struggling with the Corona situation and have trying to implement various strategies to prevent the further spread of the viral pandemic. Indian cities have been proactive in their response and have imposed lockdowns as a stringent preventive measure. It has been challenging for the civic bodies to track and trail the ones vulnerable to the infection or are infected and quarantine them and provide them with apt medical support for recovery and contain the virus. On similar grounds, Sandesh Nayak, Collector & District Magistrate, Churu discusses on the approach by the Churu district authorities to tackle COVID-19 in a webinar organised by Elets Technomedia.

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Sandesh, directly addressing the core theme of the webinar, told about the approach and the strategies adopted by Churu district administration in response to the pandemic. He said, “We traced the people who have a history of travel to foreign countries and those who have come in contact with any foreigners.” Churu gets a good number of tourists from foreign countries who visit Rajasthan, he added.

Sandesh further told about the first case that surfaced in the district. He said, “We had decided to monitor all the people. And, the first case we found was in a village where a woman tested positive for COVID. She got the virus transmitted from a foreigner.” Adding on to the tracking and trailing strategy he said, “We continued tracking and monitoring. We also tracked Tablighi Jamat people and found as many as 10 people who tested positive for the infection.”

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Initially, people were not serious about the whole pandemic thing. But, when we started conducting contact tracing of those found positive, then people realized how contamination works and there a whole lot of possibilities for anyone in near proximity to an infected person to get infected, he added.

Initiatives in Churu

The Corona outbreak brought a sense of realization among the people about how valuable a human life is. People from well to do families started coming up for helping the poor and the needy. “In order to promote a simplistic living or simplistic and minimalistic lifestyle among the people, we started ‘Give Up Something Campaign’ in Churu so that resources are being used judiciously and only when required. This sent forth the message to people to go out only for the urgent needs and not for things which could be avoided”, he said.

A major challenge the district administration and other civic bodies faced was of the migrant workers. Following the imposition of the lockdown, the migrant labourers who had lost their jobs left with only a handful of money, and many of them with no place to live started off for their home towns on foot. “In Churu, our proactiveness played an important role here. We approached the workers and convinced them to stay back as not doing so will defeat the purpose of the lockdown”, said Sandesh. Temporary shelters were erected for the workers to stay and the authorities ensured that the workers are provided with enough dry ration and food, he added.

In order to keep a check that the lockdown norms are being adhered to and the social distancing is being practised, a village-level vigilance committee was created to track people and ensure social distancing is taken care of and lockdown norms are being followed, Sandesh added.

Describing the situation and the assistance from the Centre and the State, Sandesh said, “We have assistance from the government and also the healthcare facilities and other necessary things in place. But, most importantly,  we need to work on preparing people mentally to keep them safe from the pandemic.”

Churu’s preparedness against Corona

Elaborating on how the district authorities have been taking action against various issues due to the pandemic situation, Sandesh told the attendees, “We do a survey 3-5 km of radius from where a positive case was found. Further, contact tracing is conducted and samples of the people suspected are collected and tested.”

“Also, in Churu, we are carrying out door-to-door surveys spreading awareness among people and making them understand about the seriousness of the lockdown and what all preventive measures should be taken to avoid the viral infection”, said Santosh. If the people are abiding with social distancing practice, the contamination will not occur. Moreover, during the door-to-door survey, people were asked if in case anyone needs any sought of medical help and it was provided to those who needed, he added.

Talking about the healthcare facilities and preparation in Churu, Sandesh said, “We have a 150-bed hospital dedicated for COVID-19 which might be increased to 300, as per the government.”

Elaborating in the medical response he said, “Most cases we found were asympytomatic cases. However, we only required ventilators for just four cases. Those were already suffering from other illnesses and were bed-ridden, he added.

Answering a question on the preparation of Churu in terms of availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), Sandesh said, “We have mandated masks in the state so that people do not go out without masks. We have enough PPEs available in the district so we are prepared at that part.” Moreover, highlighting the efforts of the authorities, he said, Rajasthan has started rapid testing. “We are testing on the basis of requirement. Medical teams guide us on whom to test. Also, for tracking, managing the supply chain, ensuring essentials to the people and monitoring, we are already making optimum use technology”, he added.

Concluding his address, Sandesh said, “People here are quite aware of the situation and I am quite sure that the people will follow the lockdown guidelines. Moreover, we are able to tackle the virus and we are prepared for the time to come.”

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