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Aggressive, Focused Testing & Contact Tracing System- How Rajasthan Contained Covid-19 Spread

A health worker in personal protective equipment collects a sample using a swab from a woman at a local health centre to conduct tests for the coronavirus disease. (Reuters)

A health worker in personal protective equipment collects a sample using a swab from a woman at a local health centre to conduct tests for the coronavirus disease. (Reuters)

The authorities set up an elaborate contact tracing system to deal with the isolation and quarantining of the migrants returning to Rajasthan which resulted in better containment of the deadly virus.

Rajasthan, India’s biggest state in terms of area, has witnessed an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in the last 10 days. It reported its highest spike of 866 cases on 15th July. The state has recorded more than 500 daily infections every day since the 5th of the month.

Despite the surge, the state’s commendable work in containing the spread of infections has ensured that its growth rate remains lower than most of the other major states of the country.

LOW CASE-LOAD DESPITE SURGE

Rajasthan is still at Number 10 in terms of the total case-load of the country. It has a higher population than Delhi, Gujarat, Telangana and Karnataka and yet it recorded a lower number of Covid-19 infections.

Unlike other states- Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, West Bengal, Gujarat and even Karnataka which have one major hotspot (usually the state’s capital), the cases are not concentrated in one or two major cities of Rajasthan.

Not even one district from the state is amongst the 25 worst-affected in the country (in terms of case-load). Jodhpur, with 4,223 cases has the maximum number of infections in Rajasthan, followed by Jaipur (4,127), Bharatpur (2,004), Pali (1,692) and Alwar (1,492).

Even in terms of Incidence Per Million, Rajasthan with just 344 cases per million population is amongst the best cluster of states on this count.

What is impressive about Rajasthan is that despite conducting a high number of tests, the count of positive cases are still low.

EXTENSIVE TESTING AND LOW POSITIVITY RATE

Rajasthan has conducted 1.1 million Covid-19 Tests – only Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have tested more than this.

Even in terms of Tests Per Million Population, Rajasthan with 14,500, fares better than most of the other major states barring Delhi (37,200), Andhra Pradesh (23,300) and Tamil Nadu (22,900). Just for perspective, Gujarat has tested just 7,200 per million, West Bengal – 6,700, Madhya Pradesh – 6,600, Uttar Pradesh – 5,300 and Bihar – 2,800.

Usually, extensive testing helps trace, track and control the pandemic significantly and thus it is not surprising that Rajasthan has the second-lowest Positivity Rate amongst all the major states of India. It is more than three times lower than the National Positivity Rate of 7.67%.

Not only has Rajasthan has managed to keep the infection rate low, but the authorities have worked extensively on patients’ recovery- nearly three-fourths (73.77%) of the total infected have recovered in the state.

Even more significantly, it has managed to contain the number of Covid-19 deaths.

LOW MORTALITY RATE

Rajasthan has recorded a total of 534 Covid-19 deaths. Its Mortality Rate is 2.02% which is lower than the National Average of 2.56%. It has fared better on this parameter than Uttar Pradesh (2.45%), West Bengal (2.9%), Madhya Pradesh (3.47%), Maharashtra (3.96%), Gujarat (4.66%) amongst others.

In terms of the number of tests conducted per Covid-19 death, Rajasthan is only behind Andhra Pradesh and Bihar. While Andhra has reaped the benefits of extensive testing, Bihar, in spite of testing poorly, has a high ratio because of its very low mortality numbers.

Jaipur, with 179, has recorded the maximum number of Covid-19 fatalities and a comparatively higher Mortality Rate of 4.34%, followed by Jodhpur (65), Bharatpur (43) and Kota (27).

BIKANER AND ALWAR SEE DOUBLING OF CASES IN RECENT SURGE

Bikaner district has seen its cases rise from 492 ( July 5 ) to 1,066 ( July 15 ). Alwar has also witnessed infections doubling in this period mainly due to the rise in cases in the industrial town of Bhiwadi.

Jalore district in rural Rajasthan witnessed the highest influx of migrants from other states – more than 2.4 lakh have returned to the district recently – resulting in a spike in cases from 392 to 721 in a span of 10 days.

Pratapgarh saw its numbers surge from a mere 16 till the end of June to 151 on 15th July after cases have been reported from the district jail. While Dholpur has also seen a sharp rise from 290 to 877 cases in the last three and a half weeks.

But the recent spike notwithstanding, Rajasthan is working effectively in curbing the spread of the virus. A two-pronged approach of testing aggressively and targeting the elderly and contact tracing went a long way in containing the infection in the state.

The state government also took a slew of measures such as the Mission Lisa (Life Saver) Campaign launched as early as April where the elderly and other high-risk group people were screened and tested in containment zones and hotspots.

The authorities also set up an elaborate contact tracing system to deal with the isolation and quarantining of the migrants returning to Rajasthan.

Another possible reason for the control of the virus in the state could be its low density of population.

However, the next few weeks will be crucial for Rajasthan as the number of cases continues to rise unabated.