Rajasthan was the first state to go into complete lockdown on the 21st of March amidst the coronavirus outbreak. In Bhilwara, home to one of the largest textile industries is a city in Rajasthan, 250 km from Jaipur. 3 doctors and 3 nurses had tested positive for the virus in a medical hospital in Bhilwara and were one of the first few patients in the city. They had met over 6,192 patients in the period before they got tested for the virus. The Rajasthan government responded by shutting the state down because it feared that the virus would spread rapidly if social distancing would not happen. Brijesh Bangar Medical Hospital, where the doctors and nurses had tested positive has been shut down. The 1 km area around the hospital has been declared a no mobility zone.
How the doctors contracted the virus is still uncertain. It is suspected that a patient who was being treated for pneumonia could have had the virus and spread it. The other possible means is that it was spread by a doctor who went to a Holi party at a resort where there was someone who was infected.
Out of the 52 cases in Rajasthan, 22 cases have come from Bhilwara. Which is almost 50% of the total number of cases. Community spread in Bhilwara has already begun and its population, which is around 28 lakhs, is under threat of being infected. The state government has undertaken a widespread screening exercise with 1, 948 teams of health workers going from house to house to survey of 4 million families. There have been over 600 tests that have been done in Bhilwara out of which 19 cases have tested positive. All 19 cases have been traced back to the hospital where the doctors and nurses were tested positive. Two deaths have also been reported from Bhilwara.
Bhilwara has become the epicenter of the virus outbreak in the State. Sodium hypochlorite is being sprayed across the city to sanitize it. 4000 quarantine beds and 80 isolation wards have been set up in Bhilwara as a precautionary measure. Hostels, Dharamshalas, and hotels have been acquired by the state to set up 1500 beds. There are 6,445 people who have been quarantined, out of which 11,000 are high-risk patients. The District collector has also instructed 5 private hospitals to set up isolation facilities for the patients. Water, electricity, and basic necessities are being promised to the patients who will be in isolation. “Bhilwara has been a trouble spot for us. We have screened every suspect — almost the entire Bhilwara. We are doing the best we can,” Sachin Pilot, Deputy Cm of Rajasthan commented to News 18.
With the district going into lockdown, hundreds of labourers are out of work. 1.8 million of its 2.4 million population live in rural areas and most of them are daily wage labourers. According to Newslaundry most of them have had to no help from their employers and no access to relief by the state. Bhilwara is the district that is not only facing a health crisis but also an economic crisis with many labourers not having food, ration, or money to make ends meet. “This is a mining area and we are all very poor. All work in the mines has stopped,” he said. “The police and the administration have said ‘stop work’, and people have no money. Cities and banks are closed and people cannot get any cash. We are not able to get food services. Section 144 is imposed and we cannot go out of our homes.” Told Ratan Bhil, who is an Adivasi worker from Mangarh told Newslaundry. Currently, the Rajasthan government needs to also ensure that they reach pockets of Bhilwara. They should ensure transparency in handing out rations and spreading information about how labourers and migrants can access the relief packets.