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Rural India ill prepared to handle rising COVID-19 cases, says survey

The significance of the findings comes in the backdrop of 372 districts already reporting over 1,000 cases. COVID-19 cases are also increasing in other 364 districts, most of which come under Tier 4 cities or rural districts

twitter-logoJoe C Mathew | August 19, 2020 | Updated 13:22 IST
Rural India ill prepared to handle rising COVID-19 cases, says survey
Only 5 percent of the respondents say Tier 3, Tier 4 towns and rural districts of India are well positioned with their health infrastructure to handle the fast spreading COVID-19

Is Indian healthcare system ready to handle the increasing number of COVID-19 cases? A survey conducted by community social media platform LocalCircles indicate that 58 percent of the respondents consider the country's small towns and rural districts are underprepared.

Only 5 percent of the respondents say Tier 3, Tier 4 towns and rural districts of India are well positioned with their health infrastructure to handle the fast spreading COVID-19.  While 25 percent say the healthcare system is somewhat prepared, 31 percent believe it is unprepared.

The rest - 27 percent - say it is extremely unprepared. The significance of the findings comes in the backdrop of 372 districts already reporting over 1,000 cases. COVID-19 cases are also increasing in other 364 districts, most of which come under Tier 4 cities or rural districts.

Also read: Rebooting Economy X: COVID-19 puts question mark on private sector's efficiency in healthcare

The fear is that critical patients in these regions may not be able to find proper healthcare.  The other risk is that as COVID-19 spreads in rural India, many patients visit nearby towns and big cities for treatment, possibly spreading the disease.

The LocalCircles survey covered over 24,000 persons from 242 districts of the country.  Among the respondents, 65 percent were men and 35 percent women. While 44 percent respondents were from Tier 1 cities, 25 percent hailed from Tier 2 cities. The balance, 31 percent of the respondents were from Tier 3, 4 and rural districts.

Majority of the respondents favoured some sort of lockdown to contain COVID-19, while 46 percent said there should be no lockdown. Instead, they believe  people should learn to live with it. Asked about response from the government to tackle the situation, only 9 percent favoured yet another month-long national lockdown. Ten percent said there should be a 1-month state lockdown in top COVID-19 impacted states. Twenty-five percent favoured a 1-month district level lockdown in top COVID-19 impacted districts.

Also read: Coronavirus Lockdown XI: Why India's health policy needs a course correction

Nine percent of the respondents favoured state or local lockdowns on weekends.  The survey also asked people what approach would they take when it came to going out in the next 90 days if there were no lockdowns. Around 85 percent of the respondents said they would go out to manage essential or critical matters even if lockdown was not imposed.  

Also read: Reliance Industries acquires majority stake in Netmeds for Rs 620 crore

Also read: Rebooting Economy VIII: COVID-19 pandemic could push millions of Indians into poverty and hunger

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