Lucknow: Breaking all past records for the highest single-day spike in COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic in March last year, Uttar Pradesh reported 9,587 fresh cases in the last 24 hours. The number surpassed the previous peak recorded in the state on September 11, 2020, at 7,016 cases.
On Friday evening, the state reported 36 more fatalities due to COVID-19 and 9,587 new cases, raising the death toll due to the novel coronavirus in the state to 9,039 and the case tally to 6,63,991, Additional Chief Secretary (Health) Amit Mohan Prasad told reporters.
Of the fresh cases, nearly half are from four districts -- Lucknow, Prayagraj (Allahabad), Varanasi and Kanpur. These four districts have been the hardest-hit. While 2,500 people tested positive in Lucknow, Prayagraj reported 1,140 cases, followed by 886 in Varanasi and 500 in Kanpur. Lucknow is by far the worst-hit district with 10,749 active cases, followed by 4,517 in Prayagraj, 3,726 in Varanasi and 1,400 in Kanpur.
According to data provided by the state government, over 37,210 cases were reported in UP between April 1 and April 8, of which 19,872 cases were from these four districts.
Commenting on the sudden rise in cases, Dr. C.S. Verma, president of the public health outfit, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA), Uttar Pradesh, blamed a "negligent" approach by the public, a "casual" approach adopted by the government and doctors and hospital administration not acting with alacrity given that the country is seeing a second wave of the pandemic.
"The recent surge in COVID-19 cases is a matter of grave concern. Over 25% of doctors around the globe are down with the deadly virus. In India, no new appointments of paramedical and doctors have take place in a year despite us having witnessed a bad year. The government should say what it is doing if someone is being tested positive. Or is it only testing them and letting them go?” asked Verma, claiming that there was not a single bed available in prestigious hospitals in Lucknow, let alone in other districts.
"The system will collapse unless everyone takes responsibility. One should avoid going to malls, restaurants or any public places if it is not important,” he added.
Calling the surge "unprecedented", Verma said that the people's increasing failure to adhere to COVID-19 protocol like wearing masks and social distancing were contributing to the rise in cases.
TOKEN FOR DEAD BODIES IN LUCKNOW
As COVID-19 continues to create havoc in the state capital, people making a beeline for Lucknow’s Bhaisakund Baikunth Dham for the electric cremation of their kin as wooden pyres are not allowed. Special arrangements are also being made for members of the Muslim community in cemeteries.
For the last three days, bereaved family members have been given tokens by the authorities for burial and some have had to wait for 22 hours.
"For the last two days, the number of bodies for cremation have increased at both the ghats – Bhaisakund and Gulala Ghat in Lucknow. The problem here at Bhaisakund is that there are only two electric crematorium machines and only one is working. On an average, there are 25 bodies coming in from Lucknow, Unnao, Faizabad, Sitapur in a day for cremation. Since it takes at least two hours to cremate a body with full COVID-19 protocols, there is a long waiting list. Therefore, we are giving tokens to people for their turn,” Ramapati Shukla, a member of the Bhaisakund Baikunth Dham management, told Newsclick.
NIGHT CURFEW IN SEVEN DISTRICTs
In a bid to control the infection in the state, the Uttar Pradesh government on Friday imposed a night curfew in Meerut, Ghaziabad, Noida, Varanasi, Kanpur, Prayagraj and Bareilly. The night curfew will remain in effect from 10 pm to 5 am. All educational institutions, barring medical, nursing and para-medical institutes, would remain closed till April 15.
Emergency and essential services, including medical facilities, groceries, and nutriment shops in both districts would, however, remain exempt from the restrictions, Additional Chief Secretary (Health) Amit Mohan Prasad told reporters.