India has witnessed an enormous rise in COVID-19 cases in the past few weeks with states like Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, and Punjab accounting for most of the cases in the country. Chhattisgarh ranks second in the list of active cases currently with more than 98,000 cases.
The state's situation was marked as one of the 'grave concerns' listed in the central government's agenda on the fight against COVID-19. On March 10, there were 3,345 active cases in the state. But, that rose nearly 30 times in a month's time and went up to 98,856 cases on Monday.
The state is in such a severe situation that beds are not available and the state government has again started to build COVID care centres. Alone in capital city Raipur, around 60 people died on Monday, which accounts for 6.6% deaths of the country. The positivity rate has grown around 30% with 3 out of 10 people turning COVID-19 positive.
How did Chhattisgarh become one of the biggest COVID-19 hotspots in the country in less than a month's time?
Here are a few reasons why Chhattisgarh lost its track in fight against COVID-19 virus:
- The state held Road Safety World Series in March. Cricket legends from across the world came to participate in the series, including Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara and Kevin Pietersen. People came to get a glimpse of the 'god of cricket' in thousands from across the state with very less or no COVID protocols being followed in the stadium.
Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel was himself captured watching the match with a number of people who were not wearing mask. On Saturday, former CM Dr. Raman Singh shared a video of Baghel watching the cricket match and criticised him for conducting the match with in-person attendance that led the state to become a COVID hotspot.
Here's CM Baghel's video shared by Dr. Singh:
- When Chhattisgarh most needed its chief minister amid growing cases of the virus, he was campaigning for the Congress party in Assam for the three-phase assembly elections that concluded on April 6 this month.
Due to his long absence, the authorities were unable to take any strong measures to contain the spread of virus in the state. CM Baghel returned only when Home Minister Amit Shah was about to visit the injured jawans in a recent Maoist attack case in Bijapur district.
- The vaccination drive in the state also slowed down after a situation of vaccine hesitancy grew following the comments of state's health minister TS Singhdeo, who said that Chhattisgarh was not in favour of using Bharat Biotech's Covaxin as the results of third stage clinical trials were not out.
He, in fact, asked the central government to halt the supply of Covaxin to the state. After his statements, not only fear grew amongst the people of Chhattisgarh regarding the India-made vaccine but units of vaccine stayed idle in the cold storage, slowing down the vaccination drive in the state.
- But other than all of this, it stopped 11 of its 12 COVID care centres in the capital city Raipur, which were brought into effect while the state saw a peak in cases in September last year. It led to very minimal testing of the virus in the state and saw an increase in the death figures lately.
In the latest measures taken by the state, two of Chhattisgarh's biggest cities are under lockdown. Raipur has been declared as a containment zone from April 9 till April 19 after cases surged in no time. Durg also witnessed huge numbers of deaths in the past fortnight leading to a lockdown from April 6 to April 14. According to reports, the state is one of the highest in terms of death figures with more than 100 people dying everyday and positivity rate has risen to around 30%, which is highest in the country.