The Ashok Gehlot-led Rajasthan government seems to have taken the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) advisory, that the best way to prevent Coronavirus infections and save lives is to test, test and test, to the heart. The desert state has emerged as one of the top states in the country in terms of aggressive testing.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has been both proactive and preemptive in the way the state has tested, isolated positive cases and engaged in contact tracing to curb the spread of the Novel Coronavirus.
While the Rajasthan government has been successful to a great extent in flattening the curve, but in the last few days, the rise in number of migrant labourers who have started coming back home has caused a spike in the number of positive cases.
The Chief Minister, however, seems fully confident of winning the battle against the deadly virus.
Rajasthan, since March 2 when the first case of an Italian tourist was found to be COVID-19 positive, has really come a long way. On March 2 it had no facilities to conduct COVID-19 tests. The samples had to be sent to a lab in Pune. Today, Rajasthan has created facilities to conduct 16,250 tests per day and the Chief Minister is determined to take this to 25,000 tests per day. Coronavirus test facilities will be soon available in all district headquarters of the state, most probably one of the very few states to have such facilities in the entire country.
The state so far (till May 28) had conducted over 3.65 lakh tests. The cumulative positive cases were 8158 (till May 28) out of which cumulative recovered were 4855 that is almost 60 per cent, much more then national average. Even cumulative deaths in the state, at 182 (as of May 28), are around 2.23 per cent, which is also low in comparison to the national average.
The above statistics prove how aggressive steps taken by the government have helped the situation. The Chief Minister has appealed to the people to be not afraid of testing and has said, “They (the people) should come forward and get themselves tested if they are showing any signs of COVID-19 infection.”
Gehlot, being a mass leader, his appeal is sure to resonate with the people of Rajasthan.
Under the leadership of Gehlot, the state has taken a number of innovative steps for prevention and treatment of COVID-19 infected people. Serious patients are being treated with plasma therapy in Jodhpur and Jaipur. Telemedicine facilities are being provided for diseases other than COVID-19.
Gehlot has always done innovative things especially when it comes to health and wellbeing of the residents of the state. During his second tenure as Chief Minister of Rajasthan from 2008 to 2013, he introduced free medicine and free diagnostic facilities for all. It became so popular that some of the states copied it while others sent their teams to study it.
During this tenure, which is his third, he came out with Nirogi Rajasthan scheme in December 2019.
Seeing that due to the spread of Coronavirus, patients of other common ailments were finding it difficult to seek medical advice, the Chief Minister decided to press into service 550 medical mobile OPD vans for people suffering from common ailments mainly in the affected areas. Vans are also being used in sample collections of migrant Rajasthanis, most probably another first in the country.
(The writer is a Jaipur-based journalist)