Without adequate infrastructure in the villages, the pressure is strong on the district hospital

Surrounded by forests and hills, Chamarajanagar district, which avoided the first wave of COVID-19 until June 2020 and was long in the “ green ” category, is seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases in rural areas than in urban areas. centers in the second wave of the pandemic. The district has witnessed the shocking deaths of 24 COVID-19 patients within 24 hours between Sunday and Monday, some of whom are believed to have died due to lack of oxygen.

The surge in the number of positive cases in rural areas is shown in district administration statistics that 2,255 cases were reported in Chamarajanagar district between April 1 and April 25 of this year, against which 1,697 ( or 75%) came from rural areas. pockets.

In contrast, urban areas reported 558 cases which accounted for 24.74% of the total cases between April 1 and April 25, according to Chamarajanagar Deputy Commissioner MR Ravi.

The situation has not improved since. On May 3, Gundlupet, a commercial town, recorded 8 new cases while 170 cases were reported in rural areas of the taluk, according to the district administration.

Likewise, Kollegal is another business center where 35 new cases were reported on May 3 while 115 cases were reported in rural areas of the taluk. The city of Chamarajanagar, which is the district headquarters, recorded 84 new cases during the same period, while 244 cases were reported in rural areas.

Last year, the district administration took drastic measures to keep “outsiders” at bay. He had even blocked roads winding through forests and connecting hamlets and villages, to minimize contact with the outside world. As a result, it stayed ahead of the COVID-19 curve as the rest of the country reeled from the pandemic.

More isolation

But authorities say the district cannot continue to remain in perpetual isolation. Indeed, in the absence of industry and its economy being completely agrarian in nature, Chamarajanagar has a high percentage of working population from the rural hinterland who travel daily to other districts, notably Mysuru, Mandya and other districts. ‘other regions to work.

In addition, the reduction in worker movements was not part of the current COVID-19 protocol and industrial and agricultural workers are exempt.

NS Prashanth of the Bengaluru Institute of Public Health, who has done a lot of work in the district, says the protocol for containment in rural areas must be different. He said this involves community participation and the urban police system will not work as the isolation of patients in rural areas also calls for action to meet their daily needs.

The increase in the number of patients from the rural hinterland is also adding to the pressure on the district hospital in Chamarajanagar, a district that was among the most backward in the state in the DM Nanundappa report on regional imbalances.

Lack of amenities

Dr Prashanth said that unlike other districts in the southern Karnataka region, Chamarajanagar has always been plagued by problems related to scarcity of equipment and human resources.

In addition, there are few medical facilities in the rural hinterland and the pandemic exposes these gaps and the imperatives to invest more in public health, he added.