Can Chinturu in East Godavari serve as a model for Covid containment?

RAJAHMUNDRY: Strict adherence to warnings, discipline among tribal peoples, and the concerted efforts of the health department, police, and revenue department have helped the Agency area in East Godavari to keep the dreaded corona virus at bay. The tribal peoples' approach to the blockade could well serve as a lesson for the urban middle classes.

The Integrated Tribal Development Agency (), Chinturu, comprising the mandates of Chinturu, Koonavaram, VR Puram and Yetapaka, stands out as a brilliant example. Despite sharing borders with three states, Odisha and Telangana, and facing a large influx of migrant workers from these states, not a single case has been recorded in this tribal area.

Ramana, ITDA-Chinturu project officer, said: “We are dealing with the influx of migrants from Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Telangana who are working in the cultivation of chili by establishing checkpoints at the village and mandal level. If a migrant wants to leave, they are sending him to his home state after being quarantined for a time.

He said rations are being delivered to the 42,000 ration card holders in the division with the help of 1,000 village volunteers and NGOs. In addition, food baskets comprising vegetables and other essentials are being distributed among those living in the hill villages, he said.

The project officer said that tribal peoples have supported his efforts to stop gatherings for festivals and marriage ceremonies. Furthermore, NREGS 'work has intensified to inject money into the economy.

About 100 people, including migrant workers in the area, have been tested using the rapid diagnostic kits and another 300 tests will be carried out using the Trunat RT-PCR technology in the coming days, Ramana said. While the village volunteers have been tasked with distributing the essentials, the administration is considering using the services of teachers in the area to raise awareness.

Local police women and volunteers control the smuggling of illicit liquor. Twenty quarantine centers have been kept ready to serve 2,000 people, if necessary. Facilitation centers for migrant workers have been established. Around 60 migrant workers are ready to return to Odisha and ITDA is making the necessary arrangements.

The area is also a focus of Maoist activity. Arif Hafeez, additional charge, special service officer, said the friendly surveillance in the area is paying off.

Police are distributing rations and soap to residents. Hafeez said residents of the area have been proactive in taking precautions. They are practicing social distancing even in small grocery stores in remote villages and do not allow outsiders to enter the villages.

Dr. Padmaja, the district's deputy chief medical and health officer, said an army of 600 members of health officers is deployed through eight primary health centers, the community health center in Koonavaram and the area hospital in Chinturu. She said health personnel are reaching hilltop villages to keep watch. He reported that six samples were analyzed, all of which were negative.