Representational Image. Image Courtesy: jagran
Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh has reported a massive surge in COVID-19 positive cases in the last three days from 98 to 21 and the number of deaths rising from six to 16.
The state capital -- Bhopal -- which had reported lesser cases is now standing second after Indore with 40 cases. As many as 23 new positive cases have been reported on Sunday including 11 top officials of the Health Department and four who had attended Delhi’s Tablight Jamat congregation. Besides, 22 fresh cases have been reported from Indore on the same day.
The top Health Department officials include the principal secretary and those operating out of Satpura Bhawan (Covid-19 Control Room) including a Joint Director and three Deputy Directors. In all, 11 people linked to the Health Department have tested positive, including a scientist, a consultant and some contractual staff. They are all stable.
Soon after, the state government released a list of 30 IAS officers who are suspected of having contracted COVID-19 and are now kept under isolation. A day ago, a young IAS officer with a medical degree, who was in the frontline of the state’s COVID-19 task force, had tested positive. He had attended all key meetings in the corona battle with very senior officers.
As a fallout, the district administration imposed strict curfew in the city and 22 areas of the city have been declared as containment areas including CM House and Governor House. Only medical stores and milk shops will be open until the next order. The order further states that anyone found on road would be arrested.
Official sources said 817 patients are in isolation wards in the hospital while 8,381 people are home-quarantined.
Also read: Woman with No Travel History Dies of COVID-19 in Indore, Cases Rise to 20 in MP
So far, MP is the only state where top Health Department bureaucrats have tested positive for COVID-19.
According to media reports, the Health Department’s Principal Secretary and Additional Director, who tested positive on Sunday, had hidden the travel history of their sons, who returned to Bhopal after March 16 from the USA. And the duo continued to attend meetings with other officials and Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
Replying to the allegation of hiding travel history of her son, the principal secretary on Sunday said, “My son has returned to Bhopal on March 16. The Union Government, on March 12, had issued a list of 12 countries, whose passengers were to be screened, and the USA was not on the list. Besides, he was in quarantine till March 30.”
“I’m COVID-19 positive, but healthy and it might be possible that I may have contracted the infection while working,” she clarified during the daily health bulletin.
In addition to that, the Deputy Director of Integrated Disease Surveillance, who has tested positive, had returned to Bhopal on March 21 from Indore (emerged as the epicentre of COVID-19 cases in MP), but he had not been screened.
The Morena tragedy
In another incident in Morena district, after a Dubai-returned youth hosted a feast in his mother’s memory on March 30, 2020, where hundreds of people participated. Later, 12 members of the family tested positive for COVID-19.
As a fall out, the district administration has imposed heavy curfew and launched marathon checkup drive for those who had attended the feast. A day after, the administration put 26,000 people under home quarantine in around 3,000 houses.
Also read: No Cases of Covid-19 Among 3 Lakh Migrant Workers Who Entered MP, Claim Officials
Shockingly, around 300 people ran away from the quarantine centres on the night of March 4, following which a massive search was launched by the state police. “If the Dubai-returned youth would have been screened at the airport, such situation would not have emerged. Now, thousands of people are suffering due to the government’s negligence,” said a member of state chapter of Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, Amulya, Nidhi.
Plan B to deal with pandemic
Following the news of top bureaucrats and health department officials who were spearheading the COVID-19 mission being put under quarantine or home isolation, a crisis has emerged in the state’s battle against the pandemic.
Sources say the administration is putting a plan B in place in case the need arises. “The government has prepared a second line of action in case any official gets infected,” said an official, adding that, a second line of senior bureaucrats has been drawn up to step into the battleground in case a backup plan needs to be put in operation. Samples of 120 officials had been sent for tests after the first IAS officer tested positive on April 3. “Reports of about 60 people who came in contact with the Health Department officials are awaited,” said a senior official.
A press statement issued by the government in the aftermath of this sudden crisis, urged people not to give credence to “viral social media rumours”.
Among those reportedly chosen to step up if needed are Rajesh Rajora, Ashok Barnwal, Mohammad Suleman, Chandrashekhar Borkar, Dhanraju S, T Ilayaraja and Vivek Porwal.
Meanwhile, 36 patients in MP have recovered, according to a Health Department official. They include Bhopal’s patient zero and her journalist father, who were discharged on Saturday. So was a patient in Shivpuri after recovering fully.
Also read: Lockdown: MP Police Thrash Two Journalists in Three Days, Three Police Personnel Suspended