New Delhi April 18 (IANS) Battling in a 24×7 mode against the spread of COVID-19 in one of largest Hindi heartland states, Madhya Pradesh Chief Shivraj Singh Chouhan told IANS that after taking responsibility of MP, late last month, he had to start the war against the virus from scratch.
“I do not want to make any political comment on this sensitive issue but still want to add that the previous government did not pay much attention to the COVID-19 situation,” said Chouhan, who is fighting the virus along with a dedicated team of officials and experts.
With Indore, becoming the biggest hotspot of COVID-19 in the state, the Chief Minister, in this interview said that the earlier government should have taken precautions to contain the spread of the virus in the city. However all efforts are now being made to control the pandemic, and he assured that in the coming days the situation will improve in Indore.
Here are excerpts of the interview.
Q: You took responsibility as a Chief Minister of the state at a very crucial moment. What was the situation in the state related to Covid-19 preparedness?
A: I took oath as a Chief Minister on the evening of 23rd March and the first thing on my agenda was to attend to the emerging Covid19 situation in Madhya Pradesh. I don’t want to do any politics on this subject, but my predecessor and his government did not pay any attention to Covid19 situation. They had ‘zero’ preparation.
I started from the scratch and worked on a war footing to make things happen for Madhya Pradesh. The situation is under control and we are in a much better position to handle Covid19 today.
Q: During your earlier tenure Indore emerged as the cleanest city of India and it still maintains that crown, how come it has emerged as one of the biggest hotspot of Covid19 in the state?
A: Indore is the crowning jewel of Madhya Pradesh. People of Indore are known for their commitment and dedication to the cause. Securing and maintaining the crown of the cleanest city in India is a matter of pride for each ‘indori’ and everyone in MP.
As you know, Indore is one of the busiest cities of the country. From January to early March there were so many people who travelled from international destinations to the city. As per our estimate there were more than 6000 people, who entered the city using air transport and without any kind of screening. Apart from that we had so many people coming in by trains, and roads from across the country for various events and festivals. The earlier government did not take any precautions and most of them arrived unchecked and many of them were Corona positive.
The population density also played a major role in the spread of this highly contagious virus. However, our first priority was Indore and we addressed it immediately and continue to fight the spread. We are seeing the early sign of success and in the next few days, Indore will emerge much stronger and better than what it was a few days back.
Q: How strong is the medical/healthcare infrastructure of Madhya Pradesh? Are you prepared for the worst?
A: Due to sustained efforts of the government and under the dynamic leadership of our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, India has emerged much stronger and I strongly believe that the worst is behind us. However, the healthcare infrastructure Madhya Pradesh is well equipped to handle any kind of emergency around Covid19.
As per our IITT strategy – (Identify, Isolate, Test, and Treat) – we have identified more than 27 lakh 54 thousand people, who are part of the containment areas across the state; out of which we have screened 18 lakh 14 thousand people and isolated 11,163 high risk individuals, who have been exposed to Coronavirus due to travel history or contact history with the Covid19 patients. Out of 13,492 test reports, we got 11,010 negatives and just 1307 positives, which is an excellent result. Just today from Bhopal, we have tested 99 samples and 98 came negative, which is the sign of what I said about leaving the worst behind.
We have more than 246 Covid19 care centres, 63 Covid19 Health Centres, and 25 dedicated Covid19 hospitals with a total capacity of 29,975 isolation beds with 840 ICU beds. We have more than 993 ventilators and I am happy to share that not more than 40 are being used on any patients as of now. We have more than 83 thousand PPE kits, 1,65,000 N95 masks, more than 53 lakhs three-layered masks, and 33,70,000 doses of HQCN tablets.
We are prepared but I am sure that we won’t need these resources.
Q: People always talk about Bhilwara model, but not many talk about Jabalpur model. What do you have to say about that?
A: As soon as we identified MP’s first and Jabalpur’s first four positive cases in the last week of March, the administration followed the established protocols and isolated them, traced their contact history and quarantined more than 25 people. To avoid any panic, they did everything in consultation with people and by keeping them updated regularly to avoid any kind of rumour mongering. The citizens supported the administration in lockdown and all patients were kept under isolation and vigil using the Sarthak App. The police team tracked down the contacts and worked with them as part of IITT strategy to control the spread by keeping them under required quarantine. The model we deployed across Madhya Pradesh is showing results and I am sure that after Jabalpur the next case study would be of Indore.
Q: What is your strategy for Lockdown 2.0? What happens post 20th April?
A: We will follow the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs regarding that.
Q: MP emerged as an agricultural powerhouse during your earlier tenure, today what are the plans for wheat procurement during this Covid19 situation?
A: Our PM Shri Narendra Modi has always kept the interests of farmers at heart. We have already started procuring wheat from farmers using Mandis and other allied infrastructure and we have procured close to 72% of the last year’s procurement as on 16.04.2020, that too in such a trying circumstances. Farmers are advised to come to nearest Mandi or procurement centres based on the time communicated to them by SMS based appointment system maintaining the safety and set social distancing norms.
We are always with our farmers. They are my priority.
Q: Anything else, you would like to add?
A: We will be victorious and we will defeat Coronavirus. Madhya Pradesh is in safe hands. Do not believe in rumours. We are much stronger and better prepared to fight this pandemic.
As a goodwill gesture, I have decided to pay honorarium of Rs 10,000/- per month to the front line healthcare workers, who are serving the Covid19 patients. I have also decided that the other administrative team members such as police, municipal workers etc., who come in contact with Covid19 patients and catch this virus, will also be given one time honorarium of Rs, 10000/- for their service.