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Everyone Could Be A Carrier: Covering The Pandemic In Rural India

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in India now total over 3.5 million, the third highest number of infections in the world; the disease is rampant in rural India, where people often have to rely on the most basic health facilities

Infections in India now total over 3.5 million, rising from two million in just over three weeks - the third highest number of coronavirus infections in the world
Highlights
  • While COVID-19 started in urban India, infections have now become rampant
  • Rural India is home to two-thirds of country’s 1.3 billion people
  • People in Rural India depend upon most basic healthcare facilities

BHAGALPUR: “Every person you meet is a potential carrier of the disease,” a doctor said to me when I visited the town of Bhagalpur and its nearby villages to cover the raging coronavirus pandemic in India’s countryside. Dr. Kumar Gaurav, a psychiatrist who conveyed that warning, was put in charge of the main hospital in Bhagalpur after the epidemic struck down some of his colleagues and others refused the job.

Infections in India now total over 3.5 million, rising from two million in just over three weeks – the third highest number of coronavirus infections in the world. The disease is rampant in rural India, where people often have to rely on the most basic health facilities.

We wanted to show the human toll of the disease in the countryside, home to two-thirds of India’s 1.3 billion people. So, I headed out to one of the country’s most poverty-stricken regions – Bihar state in eastern India.

Also Read: Andhra Government Hires Over 1,350 Ambulances To Cope With COVID-19 Workload

The area I went to was not easy to reach. Wary of the risk of infection from using public transport, I and a driver travelled for four days by car across India’s northern plains from New Delhi, through floods and along rutted roads.

We carried full personal protection suits, masks, goggles and sanitisers – which was far more than hospital staff I encountered had.

In Bhagalpur, I found patients and their families desperate for help and medical staff struggling with a shortage of manpower and equipment that left them at risk of infection. Often, even the equipment they did have did not work.

Gaurav’s hospital was dedicated to treating patients with COVID-19, serving a population of about 10 million people, and it still received other patients.

Most COVID-19 patients came in with relatives, who accompanied them to the intensive care wards. After trying to care of the sick – sitting with them, massaging and feeding them, these relatives would go home for the night.

Also Read: Healthcare System In Andhra Pradesh Gets A Boost, Chief Minister Launches 1,088 Ambulance Vehicles And Mobile Health Units

Gaurav said the healthcare system was close to breaking point. One of the points of constant strain, he said, was trying to limit the visits from relatives to patients in the ICU given the risk that they could spread the infection.

That underlined his warning to me that everyone I meet could be carrying the disease – it wasn’t a casual comment.

The town was under a strict lockdown, but most of the residents were not wearing masks or following any social distancing rules. Traffic was frenetic.

After four days in Bihar, we were on the road back to New Delhi.

Gaurav remained behind, the last doctor standing in his hospital on the banks of the Ganges River.

Also Read: Andhra Pradesh Is Moving Ahead In The Race No One Wants To Win. Here’s State’s Current Coronavirus Status And The Plan

When we saw him, he was making the rounds with armed guards to try to enforce rules in the hospital. He told me he felt compelled to step up to take charge.

A lot of my colleagues refused,” he said. “I had to take up the responsibility.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

World

26,14,68,997Cases
22,22,61,229Active
3,40,08,183Recovered
51,99,585Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 196 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 26,14,68,997 and 51,99,585 have died; 22,22,61,229 are active cases and 3,40,08,183 have recovered as on November 29, 2021 at 3:42 am.

India

3,45,72,523 8,774Cases
1,05,6911,328Active
3,39,98,278 9,481Recovered
4,68,554 621Deaths
In India, there are 3,45,72,523 confirmed cases including 4,68,554 deaths. The number of active cases is 1,05,691 and 3,39,98,278 have recovered as on November 28, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

66,33,612 507

11,905 248

64,80,799 738

1,40,908 17

Kerala

51,29,359 4,741

49,152 957

50,40,528 5,144

39,679 554

Karnataka

29,95,285 322

6,783 143

29,50,306 176

38,196 3

Tamil Nadu

27,24,731 740

8,382 36

26,79,895 765

36,454 11

Andhra Pradesh

20,72,446 248

2,158 5

20,55,856 253

14,432

Uttar Pradesh

17,10,373 5

86 5

16,87,377 9

22,910 1

West Bengal

16,14,152 701

7,820 27

15,86,882 717

19,450 11

Delhi

14,40,834 27

290 11

14,15,448 37

25,096 1

Odisha

10,48,492 264

2,222 6

10,37,864 255

8,406 3

Chhattisgarh

10,06,733 27

326 7

9,92,814 20

13,593

Rajasthan

9,54,741 26

187 13

9,45,599 13

8,955

Gujarat

8,27,382 28

291 17

8,16,999 45

10,092

Madhya Pradesh

7,93,120 23

112 9

7,82,480 14

10,528

Haryana

7,71,654 11

159 1

7,61,441 10

10,054

Bihar

7,26,212 3

39 6

7,16,510 9

9,663

Telangana

6,75,479 160

3,545 11

6,67,946 148

3,988 1

Assam

6,16,435 123

2,720 71

6,07,624 189

6,091 5

Punjab

6,03,190 17

313 22

5,86,284 39

16,593

Jharkhand

3,49,216 20

109 0

3,43,967 20

5,140

Uttarakhand

3,44,183 14

150 6

3,36,626 8

7,407

Jammu And Kashmir

3,36,386 149

1,724 5

3,30,189 141

4,473 3

Himachal Pradesh

2,26,941 82

809 18

2,22,287 97

3,845 3

Goa

1,78,839 40

275 9

1,75,183 31

3,381

Mizoram

1,34,279 358

4,117 110

1,29,672 466

490 2

Puducherry

1,28,860 35

326 5

1,26,662 30

1,872

Manipur

1,25,117 19

673 1

1,22,474 18

1,970 2

Tripura

84,784 13

89 9

83,874 3

821 1

Meghalaya

84,414 20

308 27

82,635 44

1,471 3

Chandigarh

65,443 5

52 4

64,571 1

820

Arunachal Pradesh

55,269 9

37 4

54,952 5

280

Sikkim

32,211 4

114 5

31,694 9

403

Nagaland

32,100 4

135 1

31,269 5

696

Ladakh

21,494 27

249 6

21,032 21

213

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,683

1 0

10,678

4

Lakshadweep

10,394

28 1

10,315 1

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,680 2

5 2

7,546

129

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