MP’s Covid-19 cases double in a fortnight as cases continue to spike
Since May 7, eight new patients were reported every hour which in the past one week increased to 10 patients per hour.Updated: May 23, 2020 19:36 IST
Covid-19 cases in Madhya Pradesh doubled in the past fortnight with total cases now over 6,100 with almost entire state affected from the pandemic, the state government data shows.
The number of cases rose by 3,000 in the last fortnight after the state took 38 days to get first 3,000 cases when the spread was limited to 24 of the 52 districts, the state government’s data shows, hinting that how fast the infection has spread in the state even though the numbers are much less than neighbouring Maharashtra and Gujarat.
The data also showed that hourly addition of Covid-19 patients has also increased. Since May 7, eight new patients were reported every hour which in the past one week increased to 10 patients per hour. As many as 49 districts out of the total are now Covid-19 districts covering 96.14% of the total population (State’s total population is 7.26 crore as per 2011 census), the data shows.
Unlike many other states, the migrant labourers contribution to total Covid-19 cases in Madhya Pradesh is just 4.86%, showing the infection has spread fast locally.
In Bihar, migrant workers accounted for 57% of the cases while in Odisha it was 62%. According to the Madhya Pradesh health department, about 300 labourers have tested positive accounting for only 4.86% of the total 6,170 patients registered till Friday evening. Around 5 lakh workers have returned to the state so far.
Among the six states having highest number of Covid-19 cases, MP’s death rate at 4.40% with 272 deaths, is only next to Gujarat which has 6.04% death rate and 1.5 times more than the national average death rate at 2.97%.
The saving grace was that the recovery rate of patients in MP is more than 45% and death rate has come down to 4.4% from about 6% a month ago. However, Covid-19 patients were being found in new localities even in hotspots areas. In Bhopal, Ujjain, Indore, the major Covid-19 hotspots, fresh cases are being reported from new localities. To aggravate the situation, the remote districts like Khandwa, Khargone, Burhanpur and Dhar have become major hotspots.
Public health expert, Amulya Nidhi said the testing rate in the state was too small. “In the last two weeks the infection spread to about a dozen new districts. Madhya Pradesh is lagging far behind the testing capacity. MP has just 20 testing labs, whereas other states which have a comparable population of MP, such as Gujarat and Tamil Nadu have increased the number of labs up to 37 and 67 labs respectively. The number of tests is also significantly low in comparison to Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan, all neighbouring states.”
Another public health expert, Sachin Jain, said, “The government was more focussed on political gains by talking of Jamaats and certain localities being epicentre of the disease and due to this entire state has had to pay the price. Even if the government feels that the virus originated and spread in certain localities it should have had an effective communication with civil society members for counselling, communicating with and convincing people in these localities to come forward to get themselves examined.”
A government official who did not want to be named, conceded that the government was struggling with a shortage of testing kits.
“There were suggestions for massive survey, screening, collection of samples and testing in Bhopal, Indore and Ujjain in particular but administration overlooked the advice as the government was struggling to have adequate number of testing kits. The health minister requested the Centre at least twice to send more kits. Also, the community penetration of the administration in Bhopal, Indore, Ujjain, Burhanpur, Khandwa and Khargone etc has hardly been up to mark.”
He said, “How the government was cut off from the situation was reflected in its decision to notify BMHRC,Bhopal, the hospital meant for Bhopal Gas Tragedy victims, as a dedicated Covid hospital. Most of the tragedy victims hospitalised were shifted to other hospitals. The order was cancelled only when several gas tragedy victims died of Covid-19 and gas tragedy survivors organisations moved the high court.”
In Ujjain, the government relied on a private medical college despite the fact there were numerous complaints from the Covid-19 patients admitted over there. It was only after the death of a ruling party corporator that the government woke up to appoint an administrator at the medical college, said a health department official who was not willing to be named.
Chief medical and health officer (CMHO) at Indore, Praveen Jadia said ensuring compliance of lockdown restrictions and social distancing in congested localities remains a big challenge.
“The death rate has come down and recovery rate has increased significantly but until and unless social distancing is ensured in such localities it’s difficult to say how much time it will take to control the situation,” he said.
Collector Bhopal, Tarun Kumar Pithode also echoed similar concerns about congested localities and said it forced the administration to take people of some localities and quarantine them.
“Social distancing was practically not possible in such areas line Zinci, Jehangirabad, Aishbagh, Talaiya, Mangalwara etc where we find a Corona cloud, a term we have given not because of any spread in atmosphere but dense population. That’s why we have started taking people out of these localities. We have taken 2,000 people out of Jehangirabad alone. This strategy coupled with strict containment zone plan and legal provisions have helped us and the number of positive cases is decreasing significantly.”
Additional chief secretary, health department, Mohd Suleman said, “The R naught factor (A mathematical factor to indicate gravity of infectious disease) was 1.95 around April 1. This has gone down to 1.27. This suggests that multiplication of the virus has reduced. The doubling rate has slowed down to 17 days from 12 days. Recovery rate has gone up to about 47%. The death rate which used to be around 6% has come down to 4.2%. Our testing has been ramped up hugely which is about 1500 per million population now. All these are good indicators. Our testing and treating capacity has improved considerably. Fever clinics will further help us.”