Covid-19: Sero survey teams face protest in Indore, admin issues warning
The survey is likely to be conducted across 7,000 households that fall under 85 wards in the Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC).Updated: Aug 14, 2020 11:25 IST
Madhya Pradesh’s (MP) health department teams that are conducting a sero-surveillance survey in Indore since Tuesday in a bid to prevent the spread of the raging coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak have been facing stiff resistance from a section of local residents.
The Indore district administration has issued an appeal to the public and has warned those, who are opposing the survey.
The survey, commissioned by the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare [MoH&FW], is being conducted by the MP health department in tandem with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and aims to get a sense of what percentage of the population of Indore — the worst-hit city in the state as far as the contagion is concerned — has developed antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19.
The survey is likely to be conducted across 7,000 households that fall under 85 wards in the Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC).
A health team has been assigned for each ward, comprising a nurse and a laboratory technician. Each team is assisted by state revenue department personnel and police.
A section of residents in Pardeshipura, Kulkarni ka Bhatta, Raj Mohalla, Nehru Nagar a few other localities under the IMC has been resisting the bid to conduct the survey.
Several residents did not open doors of their houses and many others refused to co-operate with survey teams.
An official said many residents were scared that they would be quarantined or admitted to a hospital after the survey and that led them to oppose the exercise.
Dr Salil Sakalle, who heads the medicine department at
Mahatma Gandhi Memorial (MGM) Medical College, Indore, said, “One of the primary reasons behind the resistance among local residents is a lack of awareness. We have been trying our best to allay the public’s misconceptions about the survey.”
However, residents had a different take.
Bhavesh Sharma, a resident of Nehru Nagar, said, “The resistance is an outcome of the restrictions imposed in our locality by the district administration, when some people recently tested Covid-19 positive. We were deprived of access to daily essential commodities such as milk, vegetables and even medicines. No wonder, the people are scared of the heath department’s survey teams. They are afraid that they may have to face similar restrictions again.”
The district administration’s appeal sought to allay the public’s fear.
“The sero-surveillance survey will not only assess the level of Covid-19 infection in the public, but it will also assess to what level people have developed immunity against the disease. The survey is being conducted using a scientific method and samples are being taken based on a random method from people selected through a lottery. This project is expected to prove decisive for Indore as to how to tackle the outbreak situation in the coming days,” the appeal stated.
“The health department personnel, who have come to your homes for collecting the samples, has sacrificed their routine duty, domestic work and responsibilities, leave and festivals. They want to check whether antibody has been developed in your blood against the viral disease. By not cooperating with them you are not only doing injustice to your health and that of your family, but also to the city and the country at large. At the same time, by becoming a hurdle to the way of the government’s duties, you are committing an unethical act as well,” it added.
Earlier on April 1, two doctors were injured following a stone-pelting incident by a section of residents at Tat Patti Bakhal locality in Indore during a drive to screen and identify Covid-19 patients. The campaign was conducted at the beginning of the viral outbreak in MP, which soon triggered similar protests from various localities in Indore.
Many people were arrested and later several of them were also booked under the National Security Act (NSA), 1980.