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Contained in Ranchi, virus now spreads in eastern India’s steel hub | Ranchi News

JAMSHEDPUR: As the number of coronavirus cases continues to surge in East Singhbhum district, which has its headquarters in the steel hub of Jamshedpur, the industrial capital of eastern India is on edge with the Centre allowing several relaxations under Lockdown 5.0, which comes in force on Monday.
Early in the evening on Sunday, a day after the district detected 43 Covid patients, another 10 fresh cases were confirmed taking the district’s tally to 106 positive cases (105 active) in just 19 days since May 12, until when Jamshedpur was the largest urban cluster in the country untouched by the virus.
The district had also reported 15 cases on Friday. While the Jamshedpur urban cluster had at least 51 active cases, Ranchi, where the outbreak started on March 31, detected 35 cases in the same period and now has just 21 active cases.
The Jamshedpur urban cluster includes Jamshedpur, Tata Nagar Railway Colony, Mango, Jugsalai, Baghbera, Chhota Govindpur, Haludbani, Sarjamda, Gadhra, Ghorabanda, Purihasa, Adityapur, Chota Gamarhia, and Kapali localities. The Steel City, where has large factories belonging to Tata Group and its subsidiaries and ancillary units, has a population of nearly 20 lakh.
On Saturday evening, East Singhbhum had 14 containment zones and the ones in Jamshedpur are Jawaharnagar Road 14 in Mango locality, and Birsanagar Zone 8 and Barinagar near Telco area. The containment zone in Chakulia in Ghatshila — which saw the first two Covid-19 cases — has been been declared healed.
Jamshedpur UA, which recorded its first Covid case 42 days after the viral outbreak in Jharkhand on March 31, is now a major concern for the state health authorities and the Centre’s decision to go for Unlock 1.0 from Monday has generated a mixed reaction from the residents of the Steel City.
Talking to TOI on Sunday, a noted doctor and Indian Medical Association (IMA) member based in Jamshedpur, expressed grave concern over the Union government’s decision to open malls and religious places in non-containment zones in the coming days. Requesting anonymity, he said: “The first Covid-19 patient was from Chakuila, around 90km from the city, but with 43 cases emerging in just one day near the city, the plans to open up the economy can backfire and lead to an explosion in Covid figures here.”
While he agreed that a strict, all-encompassing lockdown cannot continue forever, he emphasized that the process of opening up has to be smooth, rational and must not be taken in haste. “On paper, social distancing norms makes a lot of sense. But on the ground, who will ensure that all safety protocols are followed inside shops, malls, temples, mosques etc. The government at the Centre and in the state should think twice before restarting public transport.
Making a reference to the large number of migrants testing positive in the district, the senior doctor expressed his disappointment with over state government for “ignoring medical rationale and taking a populist decision of bringing them back even as the virus was spreading rapidly”. More than 80% of the patients in the district are those — workers, students, professional etc — who have returned home from various red zones across the country.
The rate of transmission is so high among migrant workers that the state health department recently had to create a dedicated column in its daily Covid-19 bulletin only for data related to migrants testing positive.
Noted orthopaedic surgeon Dr Indranil Bhaduri voiced his support for the Centre’s move to bring the economy back on track, but said he does not believe that the decision to open religious places and malls is a wise one. “The Covid-19 crisis will not be resolved until we get a vaccine. Even after one is found, it will take time for it to reach all the people who need it. A full-fledged lockdown obviously cannot go on indefinitely and it is the government’s duty to ensure people follow social distancing at all public places.”
Bhaduri also cautioned the government that children are extremely vulnerable to this viral disease and decision to reopen schools and other educational institutions must be taken with care and in consultation with public health experts.
Former principal Jamshedpur Public School and noted educationist Lalitha Sareen, meanwhile, flayed the Centre for “confusing the common people with its whimsical decisions on the lockdown”.
Accusing the Centre and state government of crumbling under pressure from political and business class and taking populists decisions, she said, “In March, the lockdown was imposed across the country when several states, including Jharkhand, did not have a single case of Covid-19. But now, with the infection spreading rapidly, the authorities for some reason have decided to open up everything. (PM Narendra) Modiji had laid emphasis on ‘Jaan hai toh jahan hai’ on March 24, but it seems that the value of human life has fallen quite a bit in the last two months.”
Meanwhile, politicians, industrialists, traders and businessmen have supported the decision to reopen the economy. Tapeshwar Mahato, who owns an industrial unit in Adityapur industrial area (a part of Jamshedpur urban cluster with several ancillary units feeding the Tata Motors plant here), said he was happy that government has decided to open factories and business establishments.
Responding to a TOI’s query on precautionary measures at his plant, Mahato said social distancing norms cannot be implemented to the tee on the floor of his unit once starts functioning. “I fear factory inspectors and administration officials will abuse the guidelines to harass owners of factories and industrial units,” he said.
Jamshedpur East MLA Saryu Rai, who resigned from BJP and contested the state polls in December as an independent candidate, also supported the government’s decision to provide relaxations from June 1. “If the unlocking process is not started immediately, lakhs will lose jobs and the unrest and discontent among the people will be difficult to control,” the former food and civil supplies minister said.
Meanwhile, as the district tally nears the 100-mark, sources at Tata Main Hospital (TMH), the largest healthcare facility in the city, said they have 513 isolation beds and 77 critical care beds with invasive and non-invasive ventilators. Officials at the government-run MGM Medical College and Hospital has said earlier this month that the facility has a 100-bed Covid ward equipped with one ventilator. The hospital has developed a system of providing oxygen through a pipeline to the ward, to compensate for the shortage of ventilators.

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