New Delhi: Almost five months after the coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic and India went into lockdown, the country’s case count has crossed the 2 million mark.
For months, ThePrint’s journalists have been travelling across India to bring you accurate eyewitness accounts of how the pandemic has unfolded across the country, and how the lockdown and the subsequent easing of restrictions have impacted people.
This week, they report from Nagaland and Gujarat.
Students trek 3 km to take online exams in Nagaland village
Tsuhuru, a village in the Zunheboto district in Nagaland’s Satoi administrative circle, is surrounded by dense forest. For two weeks, eight-year-old Hivika Zhimomi would walk 3 km, up a hill through this jungle, to sit for his first quarterly exams of the year, which ended recently. This is because the hill is the only spot in the entire village that has network connectivity.
A moderator would dictate questions from a smartphone, one of only three in Tsuhuru, and students wrote their answers on sheets of paper. The moderator would take photographs of the answer sheets and send them to school.
“If there were a network tower in our village, I would buy a smartphone by any means. So that at least I can let my kid have online classes or exams at home, than letting them go in the jungle,” Hiviko’s father tells ThePrint’s Angana Chakrabarti and Yimkumla Longkumer. Right now, the closest tower is more than 15 km away, on the other side of the hill.
According to the government’s 2018 data, only about 35 per cent of the population in the eight Northeastern states have internet connectivity.
“We have a lot of issues, especially in the interior districts. So that’s why we are trying both the online and offline methods… The network, even if it is there, will be erratic in many places. So we need a permanent solution,” Nagaland’s Principal Director, School Education, Shanavas C. told ThePrint. Read more here.
Also read: Knitting, sketching, handicrafts — quarantine’s a vacation in this Nagaland village
Covid spike in rural Gujarat, fire in Ahmedabad hospital
While Gujarat’s caseload and high mortality rate have long been a cause for concern, they were largely restricted to cities like Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Surat. In the last week, however, districts with higher rural populations, such as Bharuch, Kheda, Anand and Surendrenagar have seen noticeable spikes in their Covid case count.
Officer on Special Duty for Vadodara Dr Vinod Rao told ThePrint’s Kairvy Grewal and Praveen Jain that the transmission moves to areas in which the population has been in direct contact with the city. “So, the neighbouring nagar palika areas, industrial clusters and rural clusters come in the next stage.”
In Bharuch, district officials said the rise in cases occurred after restrictions were lifted and people from rural parts of Gujarat started returning to the cities for work and commuting back and forth. Meanwhile, there a paucity of testing labs in the region and also a lack of awareness about testing protocol. Read more here.
In Ahmedabad, where Covid care facilities have been an issue for several weeks now, things became worse after a fire broke out in the 50-bed Shrey Hospital killing eight Covid patients Thursday.
Relatives of the patients alleged that they weren’t informed by the hospital about the fire and found out through news media. They also alleged that the doctors ran away after the fire broke out.
Shiraz Mansoori, whose brother Altaf was one of the eight who died, told ThePrint, “The doctors told us much later about the incident. But they spoke about it with no remorse whatsoever. How is it possible that no doctors or nurses got injured in the incident? All these doctors ran away to save their own lives.” Read more here.
Also read: In Surat, Covid dead unclaimed by their Hindu families have a friend in this Muslim man