COVID19 Pandemic: The faulty case of Indore
Indore also called mini Mumbai, is a city of Madhya Pradesh where people are full of life and enjoy every moment of life. It is largest city of Madhya Pradesh with a population of 2.17 million in the area of 165 km2 and state’s Commercial capital. Now in the Covid-19 time, it has become the city with most confirmed cases in Madhya Pradesh and stands fourth position at national level among Indian Cities as on April 30, 2020. The article tries to analyze why the cleanest city of India has such a behavior and become a hot-spot of Covid-19 cases.
Covid-19 is not unknown to any human on this earth as of now. It is pandemic of modern world era of 20th Century. Started in Wuhan City of China and said to have spread by human to human but in last few weeks, with the outbreak of Pandemic Covid-19 in India, Indore has been in news for all the bad reasons (in March and till mid-April 2020). Whether the doctors are seen hurt by the frighten people or the man running its modified high-end car in the lockdown and being punished by Policeman; Whether Drone seen survillencing the streets of a colony and boys were being found in groups gossiping and police running behind them, it was all the happening of Indore.
So the point of analysis is that when the people of Indore understood well with little motivation and set example of how to manage the garbage and showed a way for Indore to become cleanest city of India and that too for four years in a row, why can’t they understand the danger of Covid-19?
Its record that how from individual to administration of Indore has been fully involved in the process of managing its garbage in best way. Every household has two dustbins for wet and dry waste material and from source of generation till source of disposal, it remained separated. Indore has set up plants for decomposing garbage and generating useful items from its waste generation and hence producing revenue at this front. Indore is also educational hub of the Madhya Pradesh and nearing states. Indore was also included among first list of smart city project of India looking at all the possibilities and potential of its future growth. It has functional SEZ and ITSEZ and many Startups are growing and doing well in all fronts.
Although the city does not have the first case of Covid-19 in Madhya Pradesh and yet it’s at top now and the numbers are increasing each day. Within a month the state has become top 4rd state and City Indore has become top 3rd city for most number of cases of Covid-19 in India. Table below gives the each day new cases and total cases from day one till date(29th April 2020) of Covid-19 in Indore city.
|Positive cases in Indore day by Day
Source: From Daily data of State and Indore City
So the question become very evident that, how the city of so many possibilities became an epicenter of outbreak of COVID19 in the state. There are many reasons to investigate about!
Casual attitude of the people: This seems to be the first and foremost reasons of the outbreak which has helped in multiplying of cases day by day. This is also most important of all the reasons of outbreak as well. The people didn’t imagine rather analyze the severity of the situations that may arise due to no seriousness and didn’t take the advisories issued by the government sincerely. People were found roaming on roads, enjoying Holi parties, throwing big get-together meets. Social and religious gathering were as usual and normal. People have the attitude that it’s far away from us and we won’t get affected. Since its start, each day Indore has recorded good number of cases. We can see in below chart, days with as much as 206, 114 and 244 new cases are added on 14th, 15th and 16th April 2020.
Dense Population and community behavior: The city is heavily populated in various areas and the city has history of community behavior too. It has too many community festivals and functions going on throughout the year. The religious places remained open even in lockdown at many places and people were found going into their community gatherings. Due to dense population in different areas, crowds were formed even during vegetables and fruits buying. The lack of social and community motivation and local authority vigilance, fearful people even hided their travel history and does not let doctors and their team to inspect in areas initially. Some rumors were also spread as the team is coming in name of Covid-19 to take young children and spreading disease in them. Rumors were prevalent to such an extent that the inspection team may take away the people and hostile them, for they belong to particular community. This also laid to spread the disease as people kept hided even after having symptoms and run away from home-quarantine period for fear.
The Total cases since it crossed 1000 mark are shown in the following figure:
We can see that numbers are increasing each day and have crossed 1500 on 28th April 2020.
Initial Lenient administration: Where the Delhi and other city administration become strict and issued the guidelines even before the lockdown announced by the government, the administration of Indore didn’t follow the suit initially. City has got International Airport recently and flights from Dubai come and go from Indore. Even after knowing the situations in UAE and Dubai, the administration didn’t have strict behavior towards ensuring self quarantine of people flying from Dubai. The seriousness must have been ensured by making multiple announcements and informing the last mile person. When the city’s residents have shown importance of waste management, then they might also have understood the rapidly spreading behavior of Covid-19, if the administration has put in proper efforts. Even when netizens were cautious about the behavior of Indore over the announcement of Prime Minister’s one day lockdown and clapping at 5:00 PM on March 22, 2020 that it may be converted to an occasion of celebration in Indore like winning a cricket match but the administration didn’t seem serious in preventing the gathering even at central Place of “Rajbada”. Circulars are issued time and again, but they didn’t being followed in actual. The administration also seems to be causal in taking strict measures to hold the situation to static phase initially.
Unstable Politics in State: When all other state governments were serious in taking measures to fight against Covid-19, the political parties in Madhya Pradesh were busy in manipulating the numbers of MLAs in their parties and proving the power at the Vidhan Sabha. The MLAs including then health minister were hiding to Bangalore Hotels, hence the state and so City Indore suffered a lot. The administration of city waited for direction from state government but the government was not stable. The political parties were moving from court to Governor House to prove the majority. Handling Covid-19 might not be the first goals for the parties as they were busy in number game in the wake of their own instability. The old government party resigned and the new came in and this transfer of power causes much delay in handling the outbreak in the state. Some reshuffling in administration was done but that was just make-up and not the actual measure demanded by the need of the hour. The state was fighting the battle without home minister or health minister till second week of April.
Social non-distancing: Social distancing was understood in much faulty way in the city. The live example was seen at 5:00 PM on March 22, 2020 one day lockdown, which was time of clapping for thanking the health workers. Resident of Indore take it as a time to celebrate and much like winning a cricket match, people got excited like they fought the Covid-19 as they have followed one day lockdown and won the battle. They moved in big groups to city’s celebration places like Central Place of Indore “Rajbada” and “Marimata Square”. Even people gathered at many other places in local areas in large numbers like own colonies and hosted a procession clanging thalis, beating drums, clapping, dancing and firing crackers all together. They forget that that the 5:00 PM clapping was for health workers and not an occasion of winning the Covid-19. More importantly they ignored the fact that if they assemble and create crowd then it’s risking everyone’s life since everyone needs to follow social distancing strictly which is the only fighting tool. Similar behavior but to a lesser extend was again observed on “Lighting a Lamp” day as well. The measures of social distancing were followed as vaguely as they follow traffic rules, when traffic police is there, they will follow the rule, else will go their own way. Similarly when Police was around then they don’t come out, otherwise lock down and social distancing is just a ritual for many of them, which was barely followed.
Poor health infrastructure: The government health infrastructure of the City is very poor and insufficient to handle any outbreak situation. According to PWC assessment report of July 2018 which state that “Indore is experiencing a shortage of qualified health workers. Many posts have been left vacant, including medical officers and positions at the urban primary health centers(UPHCs) in Indore”. Health infrastructure was not prepared well and conditions were not vigilantly observed in the starting days by the City administration to control the Pandemic.
Private hospitals initially reported to be scared enough to refer potential patients to government hospitals even without examining. Only few hospitals were designated for treatment of Covid-19 initially. The office order issued on 30 March 2020 designated 4 hospital as Red(for treatment of Covid-19 positive cases) and 8 hospital as yellow (for treatment of potential cases of flu and cough cold) with guidelines of procuring PPE(Personal Protection Equipment) on their own according to Indore City Directorate information. It seems that the forecasting of the situation was not done properly and hence the allotment of hospitals, beds and PPE kits was not procured as was necessary. The doctors and nurses might not have given initial training and sufficient resources to handle the situation. The hospitals didn’t even had hygienic conditions for quarantine and tests results came very late initially. The poor hygienic conditions were to such an extent that it can make even a healthy person causing vomiting and cough. There were reports of no food, rude behavior in hospitals for the potential patients of Covid19 exaggerated by delayed reports. This laid people to fear to report to hospital and many cases go unreported till they come to extreme situation. People even run away from hospitals during their treatment for Covid-19 or during quarantine period.
As per Ministry of Health and Family Welfare , out of total 2378 live cases of Madhya Pradesh, Indore counts for approximately 62% cases. But in the 377 total cured persons from Covid-19 of the state, Indore share is only about 50%. Also out of total deaths of 162 in the state, Indore accounts for 40% deaths as on 29 April 2020. (Source: Mohfw.gov.in)
The state government and the local authority have now become more vigilant and the residents have also become aware about the seriousness of the situation. Hospitals infrastructure have improved yet much needs to be done. High random sampling and containment of hot-stops should be first priority of the administration. Some new and innovative measures needs to be put in place, to won the battle against Covid-19. For example in such an extraordinary situation, the garbage collection vehicle which goes to every house thrice a day could be chosen to spread the awareness. Announcements could be made from public places and religious places and notices be given to community gathering for strict adherence to the Government of India advisory. People need to be reminded again and again about social distancing and maintaining hygiene. The central places like “Rajbada” and Marimata Square, where the large crowd had gathered earlier, should be in long time curfew and the police could be employed in various roads leading to central place and don’t allow people to gather there. The screening and quarantine facility need to be provided properly and should be made to follow strictly. The poor and densely populated places should be provided the vegetables, fruits, milk and other essentials regularly at subsidized cost from government so that no large gathering happened at any place. Some of these solutions are already seen in working in the city yet many new innovative ways needs to find and put in place in the coming days.
Now as the city is entering or has entered the community transmission stage, so situations are going to be worse. There must be strictness in attitude and behavior of both people and the administration. The initial faults should not convert in huge losses since the covid-19 has proved to be difficult to contain without social distancing and hygienic behavioral changes. Both people and administration are in war-footing position now to contain the further spread of covid-19 and all the bad news that has reached to world earlier. It’s a long path and city must realize that it can improve the conditions with the belief in themselves that when the people can separate even their garbage and make it cleanest city, they can also keep themselves separated from each other and from Covid-19.
It’s high time for the city to be isolated yet united to fight the big war and win the Covid-19 same way as it had tackled its garbage collection and become cleanest city consecutively for fourth time. If attitude of people is changed from today itself, the disease can be contained, controlled and stopped in weeks time. Patience is the only key to success here!
Stay Home, Stay Safe!