The high incidence of COVID-19 cases in the Chittoor district has forced the district administration to switch to mission mode to deal with its impact in the dreaded third wave in the immediate future.
The two-hour additional easing of the curfew (6 a.m. to 2 p.m.), which was imposed in the state until June 20, was not allowed in the district and the earlier times of 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. had to be adhered to. Authorities have even imposed a full lockdown in some parishes, departments and villages as the COVID-19 cases showed no sign of mitigation. While the first wave covered urban areas between March and November in 2020, the second wave covered rural areas. Currently, more than 80% of cases are in rural mandalas, while the urban belt is experiencing some relief.
For the past week, the daily average of cases has been more than 900, while the number of victims has been around a dozen.
However, district officials are confident of facing the so-called third wave, given that they are better equipped with manpower and infrastructure.
District Medical and Health Officer (DM&HO) Dr. U. Sreehari tells The Hindu: “The third wave is seen as a major threat to children. But 25% of the first and second wave cases in Chittoor district were children, of which only 8% were hospitalized. Only 2% of them were treated in intensive care units and with a recovery rate of one percent percentage. The hospital infrastructure in the Chittoor, Tirupati and Madanapalle divisions is our strength. “
If the third wave hits Chittoor, it could result in about 2.37 lakh infections, according to an action plan prepared by the district administration, which shows an increase of about 5% over current numbers. The district had suffered over 1,500 deaths as of June 18, the highest in the state.
More staff needed
The action plan shows that the hospitals under the AP Vaidya Vignana Parishad need additional posts of 54 paediatricians compared to the existing 20 and 75 nurses compared to 33 and 174 auxiliaries compared to 10 (for pediatric care). Large stocks of child ventilators, masks and other emergency medical equipment were also searched for in the third wave preparedness plan. “The strategy includes the use of teachers and educational assistants in tracking contacts, raising awareness and ensuring the general well-being of children. The teaching staff who are close to the children are also aware of possible comorbidities and other weaknesses in them. These children are mapped and a surveillance mechanism put in place for them. A similar strategy is also applied to the staff at ICDS, ”says Dr. Sreehari.