The Uttar Pradesh government has mounted a massive campaign to sensitise and sanitise the vast rural hinterland, after a hue and cry over the alarming rise in fatalities from Covid-19.And the good news is that the results are beginning to show."Hitherto, the efforts to contain Covid-19 were city-centric. The villages were ignored in the mistaken belief that people in rural areas enjoyed better immunity, and a healthy lifestyle, compared to those in the congested urban areas, but in the past fortnight the number of cases in the rural segment has gone up alarmingly," said Tej Pal, an activist of Mathura. He returned to his native village and now plans to develop Peepal Vatikas, clusters of Peepal trees.In Agra, villagers are seen crowding under the Peepal trees, spending hours to breathe in Oxygen, to remain healthy. Sonvir, an activist, told IANS that villagers believed Peepal trees produced the maximum Oxygen round the clock. Some people claimed they had benefitted immensely.The Agra district administration has sent out teams of health workers to the villages.
After the visits by local MLAs and MPs to the villages, the state health department has become active. The primary health centres are being opened and staffed with para medics. The local village bodies have been activated.In the second wave Covid-19 has spread like wildfire in the rural areas. A recent report suggests 45.5 percent rural areas are already in its grip. The infection spread and the fatalities rate have gone up alarmingly. Rural districts in Punjab and Haryana are worst affected. Bihar and West Bengal are showing rising trends as is Andhra Pradesh.In the coming weeks, state governments will need to be extra cautious to ensure that Covid-19 infection spread was urgently contained, said Agra's eminent medical practitioner Dr Devashish Bhattacharya.A rural activist Jagan Prasad Teheriya lauded the contribution of the much maligned Jhola Chaaps (unregistered village doctors) who had speedily provided Medicare. "Only a few complicated and serious cases had to be sent to the Agra city for treatment and the delay caused deaths in some villages," he added.Perhaps, in the coming days we will see a better health infrastructure in the villages as a result of the pandemic, hoped a village functionary Subhash.