Mains Article

Bhilwara model of COVID-19 containment [Mains Article]

The ‘Bhilwara model’ involves a strict lockdown, followed by a stricter curfew aimed at ruthlessly containing the spread of COVID-19 and a dedicated team of medical and administrative officials leaving no stone unturned to overcome the pandemic.
By IT's Mains Articles Team
April 27, 2020

Contents:

  • Introduction
  • What is Bhilwara model?
  • Measures taken by the government
  • Early implementation
  • Role of administration
  • Challenges faced
  • Conclusion

Bhilwara model of COVID-19 containment

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Introduction:

Bhilwara model has emerged fairly successful in handling the COVID-19 outbreak in the city which was earlier feared to be another Italy in making. The district under the leadership of district’s collector and magistrate Rajendra Bhatt witnessed a containment strategy that would make Bhilwara the first district in the country to stop new infections within a span of less than two weeks.

What is Bhilwara model?

Jaipur: Medical team members during their door-to-door visit to screen people in wake of coronavirus pandemic, during the nationwide lockdown, at Ramganj Bazar in Jaipur, Friday, March 27, 2020. (PTI Photo)(PTI27-03-2020_000247A)
  • The Bhilwara COVID-19 containment “model” refers to the steps taken by the administration in Rajasthan’s Bhilwara district to contain the disease, after it emerged as a hotspot for coronavirus positive cases.
  • Bhilwara district was among the most-affected places in India during the first phase of the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • The success of the model is attributed to the fact that Bhilwara, which was the first district in Rajasthan to report most number of coronavirus cases, has the last reported positive case on 9th April.
  • This is considered as a major success for the government and the district administration as within the first four days of the initial outbreak, the number of cases shot up to 13 and by March 30, the district had seen a total of 26 cases in 11 days.
  • Bhilwara managed to report only 28 positive cases till 20 April 2020.

Measures taken by the government:

  • The measures taken by the Rajasthan government included:
    • Imposing a curfew in the district which also barred essential services.
    • Extensive screening and house-to-house surveys to check for possible cases.
    • Detailed contact tracing of each positive case.
    • Creating a dossier on everybody they met ever since they got infected.
    • Home Quarantine and strict vigilance on infected people and suspects.

Early implementation:

  • The first known case of coronavirus in Bhilwara was reported on March 19 & the number of cases shot up within a very short time.
  • Most of those tested positive included other doctors of the private hospital, the hospital staff, along with both IPD and OPD patients who had come in contact with the infected doctors.
  • Two days later this figure reached 17 — all of them hospital staff and patients.
  • The government on March 25 sealed a 1 kilometre area near the private hospital which was considered as the epicentre for the outbreak, and declared it a zero mobility zone.

Role of administration:

  • Within three days of the first positive case, by March 22, the Health Department and the district administration in Bhilwara constituted nearly 850 teams and conducted house-to-house surveys at 56,025 houses and of 2,80,937 people.
  • Nearly 2,250 people were identified to be suffering from influenza-like illness (ILI) symptoms and were kept in home quarantine.
  • Intense contact tracing was also carried out of those patients who tested positive, with the Health Department preparing detailed charts of all the people whom they had met since being infected.
  • Official documents show that in the next five days — between March 22 and 27 — 4.35 lakh houses and 22 lakh people of Bhilwara, which has an estimated population of 30 lakh, were surveyed.
  • The state Health Department also took the help of technology, using an app to monitor the conditions of those under home quarantine on a daily basis along with keeping a tab on them through the geographical information system (GIS).
  • The administration backed up the surveys by imposing a total lockdown on the district, with the local police ensuring strict implementation of the curfew.
  • The patients were treated with hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), Tamiflu and HIV drugs which resulted in recovery of several people.
  • The district entered a period of 10-day-long “intense curfew” from April 3, and even essential services such as shops of medicine and grocery remained closed during this period.
  • The police ensured supplies to the public by delivering the essentials on their doorstep.

Challenges faced:

  • The biggest challenge that the administration faced was containing the rising number of cases after the initial outbreak.
  • The doctors of the private hospital who had tested positive had come into contact with numerous people including the staff and patients who visited the private hospital during the period when the doctors were already infected.
  • The government also had an uphill task ahead of them assembling the teams of doctors, auxiliary nurses and midwives and nursing students who went to conduct the house-to-house surveys.
  • The outbreak in Bhilwara came as a sudden shock to the administration and it was a major challenge to cover more than 22 lakh houses within a matter of days.
  • Once the survey of an area was completed, the health teams visited the place once again after a few days in order to see if there was any fresh development or rise in symptomatic people.
  • Owing to the fact that Bhilwara, a thriving textile city with an estimated population of 30 lakh, it was also a difficult task for the government to strictly impose the curfew uniformly in all areas.
  • Finally, the collective efforts fetched results and the model has been globally acknowledged to fight the pandemic.

Conclusion:

The model has been executed with clockwork precision, immaculate coordination and extreme efficiency under an efficient leadership. The need of the hour is for the government to respond with extraordinarily aggressive measures to contain expansion of COVID-19 and replicate the ‘Bilwara model’ elsewhere in the country.

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