Our recovery rate from Covid-19 is highest in India at 68.66%: Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on June 08, 2020

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot   -  PTI

The deadly contagion has tightened its grip in India as the number of infected cases has crossed 2 lakh. While the Centre and state governments are still wrapping their heads around the global pandemic that is ravaging India, there are some states that are more efficient than the others including Rajasthan and Kerala.

Rajasthan has currently occupied the first rank in the Covid-19 management index analysed for 10 States by the Central government, which included parameters such as active cases, recovered cases and mortality rate.

In an email interview with Businessline, Rajasthan’s Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot revealed his strategy behind the containment of the coronavirus in the state. Excerpts:

Rajasthan was one of the first states to register the coronavirus case in India. How has the journey been so far in terms of containment of the virus in the state?

Our state registered the first case on March 2 and since then we have utilised all our resources to contain the spread of coronavirus. We have followed the model of ruthless containment for all the hot spot areas in the state, by way of imposing a curfew, sealing the area, massive screening and total restriction on movements.

Our recovery rate is the highest in the country, which is almost 68.66 per cent. Similarly, the death rate at 2.10 per cent is much less than the national average. The rate of testing is also very high in Rajasthan. We have been successful in increasing PCR based testing to almost 17,000 tests per day from negligible capacity from the first week of March when the first case of corona case had been registered in the state.

Total tests done so far is 4.40 lakh and testing rate per million is 5,539 which is in the top 3 states of India. Thus, we can say that this situation of corona infection is under control in Rajasthan and we firmly believe that we will be successful in checking the spread of disease very soon.

The Bhilwara model of Rajasthan was praiseworthy and drew international lauding. Could you please elaborate on the same?

The essence of Bhilwara Model is strict compliance of the curfew and screening of the total population of the district. We had followed the same model for all the hot spots areas in the State wherever corona cases have emerged. In Bhilwara, the biggest challenge was to do screening and testing of the population of more than 3 million and to identify the people who had come in contact with the infected persons and quarantine them.

Around 2,000 teams carried out the door-to-door survey for the screening of the whole population and enforcing a home quarantine on those who showed influenza-like symptoms and if required, further testing was done.

In Rajasthan, health institutions aim to conduct 10,000 Covid-19 tests per day. How is the administration planning to achieve it?

The state has already achieved PCR based testing capacity to almost 17,000 per day and we hope to increase it to 25,000 per day very soon. Focused efforts are on to equip all the district hospitals to have Covid-19 testing and care facilities.

In the recent meeting last month, the Rajasthan state government has said quarantine is for only those people who have symptoms of cold, cough, or influenza-like-illness. However, India has seen a surge in the number of asymptomatic cases. How is the government planning to deal with asymptomatic cases?

People with ILI symptoms are required to undergo 14 days home/institutional quarantine. In a case where somebody does not have a home quarantine facility than institutional quarantine facility is provided by the government.

Extensive corona testing is the main strategy to contain this pandemic. It is true that there has been a surge in the number of asymptomatic cases. For this extensive counselling of the people had to be done. People are made to understand that corona is a highly contagious disease and so far, no definite cure is available. They will have to learn to live with new norms forced by this pandemic such as social distancing, personal hygiene and sanitation, use of mask and sanitizers.

Since migrants and labourers make up the most number of cases in Rajasthan (almost half of the active cases, as per India Today report), how are you planning to address this, given the state has resumed factory work?

Coming in of migrants has added to the number of corona cases. We are ensuring all precautions such as online entry of all such entrants, proper transportation with social distancing, screening, 14 days home quarantine, IT-based monitoring of any violations of quarantine norms.

Labour Department and Industry Department are jointly working on the issue of providing employment to migrants and workers and have created a data bank of all such migrated workers so that suitable employment will be given to them through the participation of private sector according to their needs. Specialized online employment exchange has been made operational, skill mapping and re-skilling trainings are been undertaken.

Have you established any rehabilitation centres for the migrants till they are sent back to their respective states?

The state of Rajasthan has created an online platform to register such migrants. The State war room is contacting each person who has registered for travel in an out of Rajasthan.

Besides deploying Shramik Special Buses arrangements of food, water, lodging has been made at different places for these migrant workers. All the SDMs have been assigned this responsibility to monitor the issues of migrant labourers. There is no unsettled issue on this count now.

Rajasthan still struggles with chronic hunger, poverty, and malnourishment. How is your government addressing these key challenges that must have been magnified due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown?

We believe that the Rajasthan government has set an example regarding helping the poor and needy, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Looking at the livelihood problems of the poor and deprived sections, over 78 lakh people have been paid social security pension for 3 months amounting to Rs. 2100 crore.

The state government has deposited ₹2,500 each in the accounts of 33 lakh people who are not covered under the social security pension schemes. Those people who did not have the bank accounts were given cash through district collector.

Till now 3.60 crore dry ration kits/ cooked food packets have been distributed to such people. Over 34 lakh people who were not getting NFSA wheat have been provided wheat @ 10 kg. per person for 3 months. This has been procured by the state from FCI at the rate of Rs. 21 per kg. with a total cost of 79 crores.

More than 40 lakh people have been provided jobs under MNREGA since the resumption of MNREGA activities during lockdown phase 3.0 and 4.0 The government of Rajasthan is leaving no stone unturned to provide help to the poor people including the migrants in Rajasthan during this pandemic.

Rajasthan is witnessing locust invasion after 26 years. How is the government tackling the influx amidst the ongoing pandemic?

It is unfortunate that the farmers who are already distressed due to lockdown are also facing the locust onslaught. Last year also there was severe locust attack and crop damage, but the state government provided timely and adequate relief to the farmers.

Learning from the last year's experience, the state has done advance planning to arrange for the machinery, manpower, resources etc. We expect the locust warning organization an organ of the central government, to be better equipped with necessary resources. I believe that we have to devise new methods to control the locust attack. Relief through crop insurance and SDRF funds will be ensured in cases of crop damage due to locust.


Published on June 08, 2020

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