Speaking exclusively with Republic Media Network's Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami on Thursday, Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot explained the rationale behind imposing a ruthless containment policy in Bhilwara district. According to him, the initial declaration of curfew did not bear the desired results as most of the people circumvented the restrictions. After the strict containment was put in place, the movement of people and vehicles was not allowed and large-scale screening of residents took place.
While acknowledging that the successful Bhilwara model couldn't be replicated everywhere, he stressed that the principle was worth emulating to save lives. Pilot cited the example of Jaipur to showcase that containment in specific areas was possible in big cities. Currently, there are 383 COVID-19 cases in Rajasthan besides three casualties being reported.
Sachin Pilot remarked, "First of all, the number of infected cases is increasing not just in Rajasthan but also in India. So it is still a matter of concern for us and we can't afford to take our eyes off the ball. We have had some success in the district of Bhilwara where patient zero was identified. He was a doctor and through him, the hospital had a lot of infections. We did impose a curfew. But despite the curfew imposition, the number of cases kept on rising."
He added, "And that's when it was decided that we need to have a super curfew and a ruthless containment of all movement. If you have vehicles coming in and out, sadly all of us use influence- I know somebody, I will get the pass to move around- it breaks the sanctity of the curfew. So, we had a ruthless containment where no individual could move around, we screened the entire city three times, 6000 people were isolated because they were showing symptoms of influenza and we quarantined quite a lot of people- about 20,000 beds prepared in Bhilwara itself should the situation get worse and over time, the good thing is that a lot of patients who tested positive have tested COVID negative."
On the possibility of replicating the Bhilwara model, Pilot opined, "It will be wrong to say that one size fits all. But the principle behind doing that can certainly be replicated. Now, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi have identified some hotspots and are doing this. But I think if you wait too long, we are paying a much higher price than a low GDP or economic loss because nothing is more important than the lives of people. Jaipur is a much larger city with 5 million people and to impose curfew in all parts was not possible. So we have had imposition in areas, so whenever we detected infected individuals, up to 2 km of that person's habitation is completely sealed off and nobody can come or go out."
The Rajasthan Deputy CM also supported the extension of the 21-day nationwide lockdown. He contended that even if the lockdown was lifted, it had to be done in stages. Furthermore, he expressed hope that the entire country would work together with a common objective to vanquish the novel coronavirus crisis.
"It can't work. If Gujarat doesn't have a lockdown and we have a lockdown, how does that work? There will be migration. So, it has to be a national effort. And I think to my mind, even if the lockdown is lifted, it has to be done in stages. But right now, all indications are that the lockdown will continue. I think on the 11th, the Prime Minister is talking to all the state governments. Once we decide to do something, let us all close ranks, let us put all ranks on deck and work towards defeating this," Sachin Pilot said on whether the lockdown should be extended.