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Madhya Pradesh Enters Unlock 1.0, but Key Issues of Testing Facilities, Hospitals & Equipment Remain Obscure

A hair salon in Mandla. (Image: News18)

A hair salon in Mandla. (Image: News18)

While dealing with public health, transparency is required, and there should be mention of ventilators, oxygen cylinders and ICU beds in districts in the state government's health bulletins, volunteer organisation Jan Swasthya Abhiyan has urged.

While lockdown 4.0 has concluded and the nation has moved towards so-called unlock 1.0, Madhya Pradesh has been reporting fresh Covid-19 cases with steady growth, crossing the 8,000 mark recently and, by Monday, the tally had reached 8,263.

Albeit there's a strong recovery rate, testing facilities have not seen much expansion with the central Indian state still screening suspects with the help of 20 laboratories.

Bhopal and Indore remain hotspots with 3,539 and 1,535 cases respectively, while some other districts are catching up fast.

The state has moved towards normalcy with a series of relaxation measures implemented since June 1.

While the recovery rate is about 50 per cent, on an average the rate of positive cases has surged from 35 per day in lockdown 1.0 to 222 in lockdown 4.0, and this is more because of increased testing, volunteer organisation Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA) said in a statement.

“Looking at the district health bulletins it’s evident that more samples are received now, but the numbers of daily test samples are less than the samples received,” said the statement, adding that MP still has just 20 labs compared to 78 in Maharashtra and 71 in Tamil Nadu.

With no mention of availability of test kits it's difficult to gauge whether the state is prepared to deal with the large numbers of positive cases after lockdown 4.0, if required, JSA senior volunteer Amulya Nidhi said.

The availability of category 1 Covid-19 hospitals is also concerning as there are 25 such hospitals even as average daily positive cases reached from 35 to 222 in four phases of lockdown, said the JSA communique, while alleging that the state government has stopped offering details of ventilators and oxygen cylinders available.

While dealing with public health, transparency is required and there should be mention of ventilators, oxygen cylinders and ICU beds in districts in the health bulletins, Nidhi said, adding that highly infected districts like Bhopal, Indore and others should have at least 500 samples collected daily and other districts should collect 100 samples daily.

With 51 districts having Covid-19 cases, every district should have a testing lab each, added the senior volunteer, saying that high number of testing facilities is key to fighting the pandemic.

Sources in the health department said that around 600-1,000 samples are left untested daily in MP due to limited testing facilities.

To add, there are far-off districts which have to wait for 4-5 days for getting test reports as there is no local lab.

With 936 containment zones, the state till May 31 had received over 1.67 lakh samples, said the government health bulletin. However, there was no mention of whether the samples tested positive or not. On May 31, the test positivity rate was 3.27 per cent. And 649 out of the 6,056 cases were left untested.

Same was the case in the last few days, according to the health bulletins.

An emailed query by News18 to Madhya Pradesh's commissioner of medical education, Nishant Varvade, is awaiting a response.

first published:June 01, 2020, 20:34 IST