Rajasthan which hit the headlines due to sudden spike in Corona cases has made concerted efforts to contain the infection. With quick response, calibrated strategy, strict implementation of safety measures, the State is on its way to combat the situation. The State has also leveraged the crisis to fill gaps in terms of infrastructure, says Rohit Kumar Singh, IAS, Additional Chief Secretary, Medical, Health & Family Welfare, Government of Rajasthan.
Corona cases in Rajasthan and strategy to combat the pandemic
We have a total of 12,886 positive COVID-19 till date. This is the total tally from March 2. Out of this, 9175 people have recovered. We have 2736 active cases who are under supervision–either at isolation wards or home quarantined. Presently, the situation is under control. Citizens need not to worry at all.
The government has made available 44,000 beds to tackle active cases. We have 407 hospitals where more than 8,000 oxygen beds 1600 ICU beds, and 900 ventilator equipped bed are there. We are ready to deal with any emergency situation. Even if in worst case, the number of cases rise up to 10 times, we will combat situation with enough resources.
Still, we are not complacent. We monitor daily the number of positive and active cases district-wise. We take stock of the situation in terms of infrastructure at local level. In addition, the situation is monitored at the highest level–CMO level every day. We are working with same vigour and determination since the first case came to light. Our frontline workers including doctors, nurses, and para medical staff are working out of way to tackle the crisis. Despite challenges on many fronts, they are doing remarkable job. We don’t let their morale go down and ensure support at every level.
We leverage the pandemic to improve delivery of services
We are taking this crisis as an opportunity. The Government’s focus is to augment health infrastructure. In all district hospitals, oxygen pipes will be available from July 1. We are also working to improve things on other fronts– ICU, ventilators, so that in near future we could tackle Corona like situation.
We always believed that there should be more test so that one could have insight about the magnitude of the crisis. Only testing could tell how many people are actually infected at any given time. When Italian tourist(positive) came to our state, we had zero testing capacity. At that time, we had to sent sample to NIV, Puna for testing as we had no facility to do so. But today we have such facility available across the state. We can do 25,000 samples testing every day.
The testings are being conducted at 21 places–14 medical colleges, AIIMS Jodhpur and Desert Medicine Research Centre. Out of these, three facilities are private and others are under the government.
We ensure testing facility at local level to tackle any such future outbreak of Dengue, Malaria, any other such vector borne disease. This is a part of augmenting healthcare infrastructure.
Rajasthan is biggest state in India in terms of geographical area, which makes delivery of services a little difficult. We have to cover far distances to make services available. Our objective is to ensure testing facility at district level.
Role of communication
Role of communication is as important as crisis management itself. Truth needs to be disseminated to people in reassuring way. It’s a big challenge to contain rumour or fake news. Onus is on the government through social media channels to let’s people know the real facts. There should have a robust strategy for the same. There should be an official source to make people updates about the incident on real time basis.
Earlier, we use to rely data three times a day on total number of positive cases, death toll, number of available beds, and how many people have undergone tests. Now we release official data twice a day-10:30 am and 8:30 pm.
We are overtly transparent in reporting death numbers. Out of 275 death cases, 56 were brought death to the hospitals. They died due to other reasons like accident, and suicide.
We still test those who have been brought dead. We report them, if found positive. There is a certain way to dispose such bodies to prevent infection to spread.
Analysis of death cases
We also analyse the reasons and categorize them–L1, L2, and L3. L1 stands for those who may had symptoms and took decision late to visit doctor, L2 for those who could not access the health facilities due to late arrival of ambulance or hospitals were far away, and L3 for those patients who reached hospitals but died due to rush or any other lack of facilities. We analyse every deaths in detailed manner. In addition, we conduct social audit after three weeks of death. Team visit locality and talk to family members and neighbor to know the exact reasons of death. This we do to improve the system which may be the one of the reasons for person’s death.
Saving lives is topmost priority
The Government’s strategy is to save lives. Though we have fair idea that infection will increase, but we aim to save maximum lives. This is why we conduct tests in aggressive manner to detect serious cases at early stage. It can help to tackle cases in strategic manner.
We have found that 70 percent people who died were suffering from co morbid conditions. They had some other diseases–hypertension, diabetes, liver issue, and cancer. We analyse that too.
30 percent who died due to Coronavirus, we do intense analysis of them as well on the basis of age factor and all. Medical team analyse all these factors so that we could prevent future deaths.
Different strategy in Bilwara and Ramganj, Jaipur
Both the cases studies have different characteristics. In Bilwara, a noted doctor who used to treat patients at different hospitals got infected. In Jaipur, it all started with an Italian tourist. We fumigated and sanitized every spots he visited.
We followed the strategy of ruthless containment in Bilwara. Measures were implement in strict manner, though people faced issues as well. District administration also played a pivotal role in managing things, ensuring supply of essential items like milk and vegetables. Local people also supported us to implement measures to prevent infection.
We had different strategy in place at Ramganj, Jaipur, which has around 5 lakh population. There are around 25 people live in a single house there.
Contrary to Bilwara, we couldn’t implement home quarantine in Jaipur as one individual my infect others. We had to take them away to different quarantine facility.