Dying within the villages

That the importance of testing to prevent Covid-related deaths cannot be underestimated is evident from the over 110 fatalities that have occurred in just four villages of Haryana. Of these, 35 have taken place in the native village of Chief Minister Khattar. In the absence of a proper Covid test result, the cause of death cannot be ascertained with finality in these cases, but the high mortality figures are enough to ring alarm bells and call for preventive measures since the deaths raise question marks over the healthcare system and its adequacy. While the villagers have not been forthcoming in getting tested despite door-to-door surveys by the health department, they have made a start by getting vaccinated. The state should make similar efforts to inspire confidence and encourage the villagers to get tested for timely detection and treatment. A surveillance of every village has been ordered to detect influenza-like symptoms, but it is equally important for the residents to report symptoms or signs of discomfort so that curative measures can be taken early on.

The rapid spread of the virus in rural areas has gone unchecked, particularly in UP. The panchayat polls and reverse migration of people from the cities because of the loss of livelihood caused by the extended lockdown enhanced the danger of the virus spreading among the local population, besides the violation of Covid-appropriate protocol. Cases not getting reported also increase the risk. Already, there have been apprehensions over the Covid fatality rate being higher in the rural areas.

The government has made recommendations like setting up Covid care centres in the villages to handle both symptomatic and asymptomatic cases but their functioning remains in doubt because of the lack of doctors and other healthcare staff, besides the required wherewithal like oxygen or medicines. While the steps may help in giving healthcare facilities a boost in the rural areas and upgrade them, the situation calls for pragmatic measures to prevent an outbreak, check mortality and improve chances of recovery.

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