Second wave of coronavirus targeted rural India, says report

Second wave of coronavirus targeted rural India, says report


India’s rural areas have seen surge in coronavirus infections in the second wave and a more distressing scenario is emerging from the rural hinterland than the urban centres, according to a report by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

CSE in its report named ‘pandemic pointers’ said that the rural areas are worst hit and over half of daily global cases happened in India on six days in May – triggered due to the surge in cases in rural districts or towns.

The report, as compiled by Times of India says that the pointers show that 53% of new cases and 52% of deaths in the country last month were recorded in rural districts.

Flagging the gaps in existing health infrastructure, it said, “The community health centres in rural India need 76% more doctors, 56% more radiographers and 35% more lab technicians.”

Noting that India accounted for every other new Covid-19 case and every third death due to the infection recorded globally in the first 26 days of May, the report said, “What escaped everyone’s notice is that every second new case and death reported from India in May was from the rural districts. This means every fourth case reported in the world that month was from rural India.”

Emphasising on the need to have enough data to take right policy decisions and make intervention on time to minimise the severity of crisis, CSE director general Sunita Narain said, “It is accepted today that one of the reasons we missed out on the virulence and speed of the second wave is because the model for predictions did not have adequate data on the immunity surveys on the populations.”

Pointing to the load of biomedical waste the country is grappling with as a result of the pandemic, the report said there had been a 46% increase in Covid-19 biomedical waste between April and May 2021. “At the same time, treatment of this waste has dipped,” it said, noting that hospitals dealing with Covid-19 patients produced 2 lakh kg of biomedical waste per day in May which was roughly 33% of India’s non-Covid biomedical waste.

Referring to available data, the report flagged a worrying picture, saying India managed to treat 88% of its biomedical waste in 2019 compared to almost 93% in 2017. “India still disposes 12% of its hospital waste without any treatment. Bihar and Karnataka fare the worst,” it said.


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