On Tuesday, the Union health ministry joint secretary Lav Agarwal said Odisha was among a few states which have been steadily registering an increase in Covid-19 cases and the situation here was a matter of concern. A day later on Wednesday, the Government of Odisha claimed the Covid graph in the state was showing a downward trend.
However, the truth is different. Odisha’s coronavirus testing track is not so encouraging. It is hovering around 50,000-mark as against the state’s earlier target of 1 lakh per day.
As per the state government’s data which is often contested and questioned by health experts, the positivity rate in the state at present stands at 5.38 per cent. The actual positivity rate, say some experts, could be much higher as many of the people who have mild symptoms, are not turning up at the Covid testing centres.
Government reports say that the positivity rate from May 5 to 11 is above 10 per cent in 28 of the 30 districts in the state. Only Malkangiri and Koraput districts have less than 10 per cent positivity rate.
On May 7, 2021, Odisha had recorded 12,238 cases. On May 8 and 9 and 10, the state reported 11,807, 10,635 and 10,031, respectively. And on May 12 and 13, the Covid-19 figures stood at 10,892 and 10,649.
The claim of the state director of public health Niranjan Mishra on Wednesday that the number of Covid cases is falling after lockdown might appear statistically correct but the real scenario is quite different. As mentioned earlier, many people with some symptoms are not volunteering Covid tests and only reporting for institutional treatment only when the conditions deteriorate. The reluctance of people for go for Covid test is not confined to illiterate or semi-literate only. Even, intellectuals are also shying away from it as they fear testing positive would attract social ostracisation and check their mobility. Some others take the disease casually and live with the misplaced idea that it’s like a normal viral fever and can be cured with self-medication. These blunders, as has been seen this time, cost many lives, mostly the youths. By the time they get symptoms of the dreaded disease, some of their vital organs like lungs and liver are seriously infected and it becomes too difficult for doctors to save their lives.
What should the government do in this situation?
As suggested by Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan during his discussion with chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday, there should be Covid-19 crisis management centres at village levels so that an early detection can be done. Similarly, Covid-19 patients falling seriously sick can be sent to hospitals without much delay for urgent healthcare interventions.
It’s time for the state government to adopt a consultative approach and work in tandem with the Centre to see that the crusade against the Covid crisis is fought with all seriousness and the damage is minimized and finally won.