UP village in panic as Covid-19 cases surge in rural areas

Updated on May 13, 2021 04:35 PM IST

The villages under the Mauaima village council, which have a population of 25,000, have officially reported around six Covid-19 deaths. But residents say the number is around four times higher. The last rites of many people, who have died, have been performed hurriedly over the last few weeks

Police and district administration team with health workers urge locals to go for voluntary testing and vaccination for Covid in Mauaima gram panchayat area. (HT photo)
Police and district administration team with health workers urge locals to go for voluntary testing and vaccination for Covid in Mauaima gram panchayat area. (HT photo)

The lanes of Mauaima village in Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj, which are normally abuzz with activities, wore a deserted look. Residents were not even letting children step out of their homes as fear has gripped the village amid rising Covid-19 cases in rural areas.

Tirthraj Yadav, 36, the newly elected village head, said the residents were scared of symptoms associated with Covid-19--cough, fever, and body aches--which are otherwise dismissed as normal and associated with changing seasons. Yadav blamed lack of education for misconceptions about the disease, which have added to the panic. He added many believe that if one person of a family tested positive for Covid, the kin will also be sent to hospitals. Yadav said misinformation that free vaccination can make one sicker, etc has also made people in rural areas reluctant to undergo voluntary testing. “Many hide their symptoms and try to get themselves treated on their own, which has cost them, dear,” said Yadav.

The villages under the Mauaima village council, which have a population of 25,000, have officially reported around six Covid-19 deaths. But residents say the number is around four times higher. The last rites of many people, who have died, have been performed hurriedly over the last few weeks.

Police officials urge villagers to go for vaccination, and testing. (HT photo)
Police officials urge villagers to go for vaccination, and testing. (HT photo)

Yadav said the deaths of three members of a family triggered much panic. “If one goes by cremations and burials, we have had around 25 deaths in the last few months...most of them died after showing symptoms like fever, cough, and breathing trouble. But their kin preferred to not get them tested.”

Also Read | Uttar Pradesh reports 17,775 Covid-19 cases, 281 related fatalities

Muhammad Waseem, 42, of the nearby Bataha Majra, said around 500 people in his village have contracted Covid or showed its symptoms. “But merely one in five went to the Community Health Centre (CHC), which has free Covid-19 testing, treatment, and vaccination facilities,” said Waseem, who owns around 100 power looms. Waseem said unfounded fears were deterring people from seeking treatment. “Without any logic, many believe that the vaccine would make them sicker. Some just do not want to send their sick kin to hospitals. I have tried to convince people to make use of the free services, but it is tough to get them to change their minds.”

Phool Chandra Yadav, 50, a resident of Khakri Matpur Majra village, echoed Yadav and Waseem.

Dr Ram Gopal Verma, the CHC in charge, said they were conducting house-to-house testing with the help of 160 teams. “Around 320 tests are being performed at the centre daily on average,” Verma said. He added the second phase of a state-wide drive to identify Covid-19 patients was underway. “We have divided our block into seven zones, and each is being covered. It is possible that a few houses may not have been covered yet, but by the time the second phase gets over, all homes would be covered.”

Verma said four to six Covid-19 cases were being detected daily. “However, lack of cooperation from people under the Mauaima Gram Panchayat has been a challenge for us. We have instances where people found with symptoms have been given medicine kits and asked to get tested. But they refused to turn up for tests after getting relief from medicines. Many times, despite an ambulance being ready, positive patients and their kin simply refuse to go to the hospital and get into altercations. However, our efforts are on with help of police and district administration officials.”

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    K Sandeep Kumar is a Special Correspondent of Hindustan Times heading the Allahabad Bureau. He has spent over 16 years reporting extensively in Uttar Pradesh, especially Allahabad and Lucknow. He covers politics, science and technology, higher education, medical and health and defence matters. He also writes on development issues.

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