Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh's capital has emerged as a fresh Covid-19 hotspot in the country with cases growing almost fourfold within 72 hours. An additional worrying factor is that a large number of those infected are healthcare and police personnel as well as their kin.
The number of novel coronavirus cases in Bhopal was 25 on April 5, while by April 8 afternoon the figure had risen to 91, including one casualty and two who have recovered. The city reported eight positive cases on Wednesday afternoon, including seven healthcare workers and a journalist from a regional TV channel.
Bhopal witnessed its first Covid-19 case on March 22 when a woman studying in London returned to the city and tested positive. Later, her journalist father too contracted the infection. Both, however, recovered from the infection a couple of days ago, the only two such cases reported in Bhopal so far.
The sole death the city reported was when a man Naresh Khatik, 29, who worked as a watchman with a trader, died during treatment this week.
Bhopal, where curfew was imposed on March 24, was put under total lockdown on April 5 midnight. Only milk shops, petrol pumps and chemist stores are allowed to remain open.
Among the fresh Covid-19 cases are 20 Tablighi Jamaat members, 10 policemen, five of their kin and close to three dozen health staffers including senior officials.
Around 2,100 police personnel from Bhopal have been put in hotels, guesthouses and wedding venues to check any further spread of the virus among them and their families.
Bhopal DIG Irshad Wali and Collector Tarun Pithode too have kept themselves in isolation in a guesthouse and have offered samples for test. Other senior police officials have also kept themselves in self-quarantine.
Seeing the exponential rise in positive cases, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Tuesday hinted that the lockdown could be extended in Madhya Pradesh. “If the economy is derailed, it could be corrected but those who would die can’t be brought back,” Chouhan said.
During a review meeting on the crisis, Chouhan on Tuesday directed the administration to strictly keep the borders of Bhopal and Indore sealed and prevent any unauthorised transportation. He ordered his officers to study the Covid-19 control efforts of Rajasthan's Bhilwara and Karnataka and implement them in Madhya Pradesh.
To add, Bhilwara witnessed a massive coronavirus outbreak, but effective lockdown and preventive measures helped the city tame the infection, winning accolades nationally and globally.
Chouhan asked the officers to take all possible steps to control the spread, including use of face recognition and other techniques to monitor those in home quarantine.
Sources said that the state government has decided to prepare a report on the Covid-19 threat and send it to the Centre for a call on lockdown extension. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to address all chief ministers on Saturday to discuss the issue.
Around 140 members of the Islamic preachers' body Tablighi Jamaat, have been sent to a mosque outside the city limits after locals repeatedly complained to the administration that these visitors weren’t following lockdown norms and were venturing out of the premises where they had been kept in isolation across the city.
Around 300 contacts of the organisation members have been put in isolation and 700 others are being searched for.
The administration has taken over a mosque in Ijtima site in Eint Khedi area, outside the city limits and has kept these men there with proper sanitisation norms and safety parameters.
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