Can Chinturu in EG serve as model for Covid containment?

Rajahmundry: Strict compliance to advisories, discipline among tribal people and concerted efforts of the health department, police and revenue department has helped the Agency area in East Godavari keep the dreaded corona virus at bay. The tribal peoples’ approach to the lockdown could well serve as a lesson for the urbane middle classes.
The Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA), Chinturu—comprising Chinturu, Koonavaram, VR Puram and Yetapaka mandals—stands out as a shining example. Despite sharing borders with three states— Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Telangana—and facing a huge influx of migrant labourers from these states, not a single Covid-19 case has been registered in this tribal area.
Ramana, project officer of ITDA-Chinturu said, “We are coping with the influx of migrants from Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Telangana who work in chilli cultivation by setting up village and mandal-level check-posts. If a migrant wants to leave, they are being sent to their home state after staying in quarantine for a while.”
He said that rations are being delivered to the 42,000 ration card holders in the division with the help of 1,000 village volunteers and NGOs. Additionally, food baskets comprising vegetables and other essentials are being distributed among the tribals living on hilltop villages, he said.
The project officer said that tribal people have supported their efforts in stopping gatherings for festivals and marriage ceremonies. Further, NREGS works have been ramped up to pump in money into the economy.
Nearly 100 persons including migrant workers in the area have been tested using the rapid diagnostic kits and another 300 hundred tests will be conducted with Trunat RT-PCR technology in coming days, said Ramana. While village volunteers have taken up the job of distributing essentials, the administration is considering using the services of teachers in the area to raise awareness.
Women cops and local volunteers are checking smuggling of illicit liquor. Twenty quarantine centres have been kept ready to handle 2,000 people, if needed. Facilitation centres have been set up for migrant labourers. Around 60 migrant labourers are ready to go back to Odisha and the ITDA is making arrangements.
The area is also a hotbed of Maoist activity. Arif Hafeez, additional charge, officer on special duty, said that friendly policing in the area is yielding good results.
Police are distributing rations and soap among residents. Hafeez said that the residents of the area have been proactive in taking precautions. They are practising social distancing even at small grocery shops in remote villages and aren’t allowing outsiders into the villages.
Dr Padmaja, deputy district medical and health officer said that a 600-member army of health officials is deployed through eight primary health centres, the community health centre in Koonavaram and the area hospital in Chinturu. She said that health staff is reaching hilltop villages to maintain surveillance. She informed that six samples have been tested, all of which have been negative.
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