September 25, 2022

Published from Mumbai, Delhi & Bhopal

Maha village ‘isolates’ itself from Covid, earns laurels from Centre

Nanded (Maharashtra), Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday urged the need to make every village in India ‘Corona-mukt’, a small Maharashtra village is already waving a flag of victory against the virus.

Bhosi, a village of around 6,000 in Nanded district, has successfully implemented a simple but effective path of ‘isolation’ as it fought the pandemic along with the rest of the country, and earned the Centre’s pat for its efforts.

This is another achievement for the state where the Hivare-Bazaar village of around 1,600 in Ahmednagar adopted similar practices to emerge Covid-free this month, according to prominent social figure Popatrao Pawar.

Even the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has been getting praises from the Centre, the courts and foreign nations for its Covid practices, particularly in problem areas of slums like Dharavi.

It was in March after a wedding celebration in Bhosi that a girl was found Covid positive, and the following week, five others also tested positive, spreading panic in the entire village.

“Compared to urban areas, preventing the spread of Covid-19 in a rural setup is relatively complicated owing to the lack of testing facilities and health infrastructure,” said a government official.

Swamped with so many cases, Bhosi Zilla Parishad member Prakash D. Bhosikar took the initiative to organise a Covid health camp in the village with the support of the village panchayat and the health department.

Rapid Antigen tests and RT-PCR tests that were conducted on the people threw up a staggering 119 new Covid cases, spreading shock among the locals.

Ironically, all this came despite a voluntary 15-day ‘janata curfew’ observed by the villagers in early-March 2021, said the village sarpanch, Tarabai Kalyankar.

The village leaders deliberated among themselves and concluded that ‘isolation’ is the key ‘to break the Covid chain’ and prevent others from getting infected.

“Accordingly, all the asymptomatic or mildly infected persons were cajoled to go and isolate themselves in their farmlands for a period of 15-17 days, as per the guidelines of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare,” the official said.

Agriculture labourers and other landless persons were shifted and quarantined in a temporary 2,500 square feet shed on Bhosikar’s own farm.

A village health worker and Anganwadi volunteer Ashatai would visit the fields daily and interact with all the patients there, and food and medicines were also provided to them there, with almost everyone cooperating.

After 15-20 days of self-isolation in the fields or the shed, the villagers gradually underwent tests and after getting a Covid negative report, joyfully returned to their dwellings.

One such relieved farm woman, Lakshmi Akkemwad, who remained quarantined in the open fields for a fortnight, now swears that “separation and physical distancing is the only option to save the villagers from the virus”.

“Over six weeks have passed since then, and we have not reported a single new case. This proves that Covid-19 can be fought effectively by the traditional method of isolation, as was done during the days of the plague even in the remote villages lacking healthcare facilities,” Bhosikar said.

Nanded Zilla Parishad CEO Vasha D. Thakur-Ghuge said that “the Bhosi pattern is a good example of coordination between the people, the elected representatives and the state administration” which is worthy of replication in other villages and elsewhere in the country as required.

The Bhosi success story has been acknowledged as a ‘Best Practice’ by the Union Ministry of Panchayati Raj, said the official.

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