A city always bustling with commercial and socio-cultural activities, Indore has turned into the coronavirus infection hotspot in Madhya Pradesh, and is under curfew for almost a fortnight now. Ironically, it was ranked the cleanest city in the country for the third time in a row last year in the Central government's cleanliness survey. In the last four years the Indore municipal corporation has eliminated garbage dumps and ensured 100 per cent household-waste segregation Indore has so far recorded as many as 173 Covid-19 cases and 16 deaths resulting from the contagion.
The local administration is facing criticism over its strategy in dealing with the pandemic in the initial stages.
Amulya Nidhi, an activist in health sector, said, "In the beginning the health department focused on screening those who arrived in Indore via Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat after returning from abroad.
"This was a major error of judgment as Indore is a commercial city and thousands of people arrive and leave through railway and road. But such visitors were not screened initially," he said.
The district administration announced lockdown in the city from March 23. After the first coronavirus cases were reported in the city, it imposed a total curfew in the city.
"I feel that in a densely populated city like Indore, lockdown should have been announced from the beginning of March," Nidhi said.
Indore city has a population of over 30 lakh.
Salil Sakalle, head of the medicine department of the government-run Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Medical College here said, "There is no community transmission-like situation (where the person or the event which could be the source of infection can not be ascertained) in the city.
"Majority of coronavirus cases are coming from a few particular pockets of the city," he said.
Asked about a high number of deaths, Sakalle said, "Most of the patients who succumbed to the disease were admitted to hospitals late, and many were already suffering from other ailments besides Covid-19."
He felt the curfew in the city should be extended beyond April 14, when nationwide lockdown is due to end.
In Taat Patti Bakhal area of Indore, two women doctors were injured recently when a team of health officials was pelted with stones while they were trying to trace a person who had come into contact with a Covid-19 patient earlier. A video of the incident had gone viral on social media.
An official said the local administration has made arrangements for home delivery of essential items such as milk, groceries, potatoes and onions so that people need not step out.
When the epidemic began in March, the 15-month-old Congress government led by Kamal Nath was on the verge of collapse. Some observers believe that preparations to deal with the virus outbreak suffered during this period of political uncertainty.