The rural areas in Odisha are increasingly coming under the infectious grip of COVID-19 in what has evidently emerged as a major cause of worry for State’s COVID managers and public health planners.
As the situation threatens to slip out of grip, the Odisha government has decided to conduct a 3-month door-to-door survey from May 24 of people showing signs of COVID symptoms. The ASHA and Anganwadi workers will do the health screening with surveillance and monitoring by the State’s health and family welfare department.
The first wave of the pandemic last year was largely experienced in urban areas. Majority of villages had remained mostly untouched during the first wave. But this time as the 2nd wave of the contagion is peaking with the State consistently clocking 10,000-plus infections daily. The pandemic is growing faster in rural parts, getting the better of urban parts percentage wise, said public health experts.
The COVID infection is spreading fast in rural parts. To make the situation worse, the invisible cases are lying undetected as the smaller centres do not have enough centres.
The top health officials admitted the spread of the disease in the rural parts while allaying fears of things assuming alarming proportions.
The April and May months have reported the spread of the disease to village areas. It is definitely a cause of worry. However the government is on the job to break the chain of transmission by ramping up testing including RT-PCR. The vulnerable villages are being placed under micro containment zone restriction to curb the rate of infection, said State’s Public Health Director Niranjan Mishra
The rural areas accounted for 57% of cumulative infections in the first fortnight of May while it was 51% in the month of April. The Odisha situation is comparatively better in comparison to other states where the transmission in rural pockets has jumped to 60 to 70 percent, he said.
The health department is laying due focus in these areas. The Collectors and Chief District Medical Officers (CDMOs) are monitoring the situation round the clock, he added.
The rural pockets in the least urbanized districts like Nupada, Kalahandi and Sundargarh- having sizable tribal population are bearing the brunt of COVID-19. The principal reason for growth in rural infection in these areas is being attributed to transmission of infection from neighbouring Chhattisgarh. These districts share borders with the neighbouring State. The people in Nuapada and Kalahandi are heavily dependent on the neighbouring State for trade and commerce besides employment.