Kashi’s Covid management model that emerged while fighting the COVID-19 pandemic was instrumental in saving lives. Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi was closely watching the situation throughout the country, he was taking hourly updates about the situation in Kashi, after all, his own constituency is of importance too.
A 24 by 7 Command and Control Room was set up with 20 dedicated phone lines. It turned into a hub of coordination between various arms of administration and facilitated seamless communication and handling of the crisis.
Considering the pressure on the health system, it was critical to expand the health infrastructure on an urgent basis. Also, being a hub of healthcare for the entire Purvanchal region as well as some parts of Bihar, there was added pressure on Kashi. In these extraordinary times, the people of Kashi, the local administration and hospitals worked in tandem to fight the battle against the pandemic. Acknowledging the spirit of service within the people of Kashi, PM Modi applauded the work done by social organisations and spirited individuals to help the more vulnerable sections of society sail through the difficult time. He said, “Whether it is the first wave of corona or the second wave, the people here have been epitome of patience and service. The people of Kashi and the social organizations are constantly serving the patients, the poor and the elderly like a family member and are concerned about them. Kashi has dedicated itself completely so that no family has to worry about food and no poor person has to worry about medicines. Many traders themselves have come forward and closed their shops to break the chain of infection. All these traders and our colleagues did not worry about their economic gains and losses, but joined the service with their own resources. Your sense of service will overwhelm anyone, but I know that this is the inherent nature of this city of Mother Annapurna. Service towards mankind is a kind of mantra of worship here.”
DRDO came through in the crisis, as it set up a 750-bed COVID hospital in record time. In order to meet the growing requirement of oxygen, two oxygen plants were operationalised and hundreds of oxygen cylinders and concentrators were arranged.
The Varanasi administration ramped up RT-PCR testing capacity of the city from 5,000 to 12,000 per day, while ensuring that the results were available to the concerned within 24-hours. Two automatic RNA extractor machines arranged from ASSOCHAM made speedy testing possible. Thanks to these efforts, cases were identified, enabling the swift roll out of steps to curb the spread while ensuring all possible medical assistance in a timely fashion.
The city of Varanasi adopted the strategy of creating micro-containment zones instead of going in for a complete lockdown. This was made possible with a team working day and night to monitor the situation on ground which had been empowered to act immediately as the situation demanded. People living in these micro-containment zones were then served doorstep delivery of medicines and food.
In addition, a steady stock of the prescribed drugs during COVID treatment was also maintained. Varanasi was also ensured a good supply of Remdesivir injections.
Another important intervention made by PM Modi was to alert the system on the distress calls emanating from rural areas. As a precautionary measure, the administration made available all resources needed to fight the pandemic in the rural hinterland of Varanasi. It meant distribution of 70,000 medical kits to contain the pandemic in rural hinterland of Varanasi, training the healthcare staff at the primary and secondary dispensaries with oximeters and other testing paraphernalia. This resulted in decreasing number of distress calls from rural areas at the command-and-control centre.
The Kashi COVID Management Model also showed utilization of telemedicine facilities. These facilities aimed at providing sound medical advice at people’s homes itself to ensure that they do not have risk their lives in a bid to visit a doctor. Named Kashi Kavach, the app provided online consultation with private doctors, thus helping people receive right treatment when the initial symptoms of COVID-19 were seen as well as for other non-COVID related ailments. This was in line with PM Modi’s vision of ‘Jahan Bimar Wahan Upchar' (Bringing treatment to the patient’s doorstep).
Another important aspect of the pandemic management chain has been the critical link of vaccination too. Even on this front, Kashi has demonstrated great resolve. Over 11 lakh vaccine doses have been administered in the district (as of 23 July), thanks to the excellent facilities provided by the local administration and the cooperation of its residents, with total dose administration per day being consistently higher than 50,000 per day for over two months!
Through proactive steps taken by the administration under the supervision and guidance of PM Modi, positivity ratio, case fatality ratio and overall COVID related distress calls in the district were brought down. Kashi’s COVID management model of responsive leadership, micro-containment, 24*7 monitoring and timely care was seen to be effective in reaching out to people in the most difficult circumstances.