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Agra steps up sampling, adopts new initiatives to contain coronavirus

In its all-out battle against Covid-19, the Agra district health management has opted for random sampling and step-up, step-down initiatives, that promise to yield better results.

The S.N. Medical College authorities have begun segregating Covid-19 patients in different wards to check the infection. The new patients are admitted to a separate ward and those who have fully recovered or partially are confined to a separate ward called Transitional Accelerated Recovery Ward.

Agra district health officials are now conducting random sampling at crowded places, bus stands, railway stations, or markets. The initial results are better than pool sampling, the Corona Task Force officials claimed.

The early results of the fortnight-long Covid Surveillance Programme which covered nearly 49 lakh people in the district suggest that the infection spread has been checked to a large extent. Of the 1,808 suspected cases, only four or five were found positive. More results are awaited.

However, independent groups of activists, doubt the claims as well as the daily figures released by the district authorities. The general complaint is that not enough samples were being tested and people were not getting the required care till it is too late.

Hundreds of people are in-home quarantine and each day their number is swelling, they alleged. Even private medical practitioners do not give credibility to data released by the state health department.

"The situation is far worse than presented," Vivek Sarabhoy, heading a Covid-19 Help group for Agra said. Vivek said it was high time that a parallel health management structure was raised, relieving the administrative officials of these emergency duties for which they were not trained. He said 'criminalization of Covid-19' should stop.

A humane approach was needed and they should stop treating people as criminals. It's not a law and order problem, as has been made out. The problem is with the mindset of both the people and the administrators. We need to work on this aspect of the problem to restore a balance and direction in our fight against the dreaded infection, Sarabhoy added.

Talking to IANS, the senior advocate and Covid help group head, Sarabhoy said: "The human race across the globe is experiencing the most unexpected agony which is neither seen nor can be captured, and to fight with this enemy we have no guns, the worst time to all of us, not even can compare to World War, as this enemy triggers the human race without any warning by converting humans as Zombies and till date, we do not have any respite from it."

Vivek suggested that the government should designate few officers only for Covid in cities along with self-sustained NGOs that are capable of handling people's grievances. This team composition will be from both, public and private sectors, which will be fully dedicated to taking care of Covid issues and cases. This team shall also induct a large number of private doctors who shall be ready to work for the society on government prescribed rates.

Vivek suggested that this team would be responsible for the city mapping, sanitization, community awareness, law and order, medical facilities, the requirement of food, medicine, patients, isolation wards, quarantine persons, and so on. They will also work on rosters as this is not one day exercise, the Covid is not going at least for the next couple of months.

Secondly, we saw at many places across the country police had treated the protesting public very badly. Are Covid positive patients criminals or public which come on roads hooligans? Since the police are not able to work in this situation we need to have other forces like the PAC, RAF, CISF, etc. to take care of the law and order situation."

Meanwhile, Agra reported its 94th Covid death. The tally now is 1,439. So far 1,180 patients have been discharged after recovery. The number of containment zones continues to remain high at 89..