The turnaround in numbers in UP seems counterintuitive considering the amount of bad and lopsided press the state has received. But the real picture is often hidden somewhere in the middle of hysteria and narrative setting.
So, what is the true story of the UP Model?
The chasm between talkers and doers is how one could define individual states’ response to the second wave of COVID-19 in India. On one side of the spectrum, there was a State leadership that held daily press conferences and made headlines on how they are not being supported by the Centre. While on the other side, there were states that were focused on doing their best with resources at hand and a similar level of support from the Centre.
One such State leadership that embodied the ‘doer’ personality was of Uttar Pradesh. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was seen less giving press bytes and more on ground responding to the crisis with swiftness, agility and sensitivity. Today, UP, which was predicted to be heading for doom, is being praised for its stealth approach in containing the spread of virus in the state, which includes rural areas as well.
Uttar Pradesh has the best recovery rate and lowest Covid positive numbers to population ratio in the country. The positivity rate has gone down to 2.45 per cent and the recovery rate stands at 91.04 per cent, one of the highest in the country. The total number of active cases has reduced from the highest figure i.e. 3,10,783 to the present figure of 1,23,579 and is steadily declining. It is the only state to have achieved three lakhs daily Covid testing in a day. It is also the first state to vaccinate ten lakh people in the age group of 18-44.
The turnaround in numbers seems counterintuitive considering the amount of bad and lopsided press the state has received. But the real picture is often hidden somewhere in the middle of hysteria and narrative setting. So, what is the true story of the UP Model?
The first and foremost aspect to be understood is oxygen distribution that took place at a war footing. The mounting number of COVID-19 cases pushed the demand for oxygen sharply. As the Centre took reign of ramping up oxygen production on a massive scale, the States were entrusted with the responsibility of lifting the oxygen and ensuring it reaches the end users, i.e., the hospitals.
Within 24 hours, UP government put in place a system to intercept trucks carrying oxygen. The rail network was deployed to bring oxygen supplies from the eastern states to UP and with Air Force’s assistance, empty cylinders were airlifted from Agra, Hindon, and Lucknow to be taken for re-filling. The tracking system was integrated with a live dashboard. Based on the information fed into the dashboard, the oxygen supply was streamlined, and the allocation gap was addressed.
The cycle of lifting oxygen supply, distributing it to various regional centres and shifting empty cylinders to the airport lasted maximum 10 hours. Within 3 days a system was set to supply 800 MT of oxygen to all major health servicing centres every 24 hours. In the beginning of May, UP was lifting and distributing 250 MT oxygen. Within 10 days, the number jumped to 1000 MT.
Second most remarkable aspect of UP Model, which is worth emulating, is the way UP government limited the virus spread in rural areas. With farmer protests going for months and migrant labour returning from Maharashtra and Delhi, two of the most affected regions, the danger of pandemic reaching the hinterland seemed imminent.
The State government set in motion door-to-door testing. Monitoring teams would visit homes in villages and remote hamlets to test everyone with symptoms of COVID-19 using Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) kits. Those testing positive would be isolated and provided with a medicine kit. All those who came in contact of a COVID positive person would be quarantined and tested using RT-PCR at home.
In addition, routine sample collection would also be undertaken using mobile vans and Community Health Centers. The aggressive testing by the UP government has been noted by the World Health Organisation, which lauded the administration for going to last mile to contain transmission by testing people with symptoms for rapid isolation, disease management and contact tracing.
The state government has deployed 1,41,610 teams and 21,242 supervisors from the state health department for this activity to ensure all rural areas are covered. In all 75 districts, 41,248 containment zones have been identified wherein doorstep delivery of essentials, cleaning and sanitization is being carried out.
From the massive presence of administration on ground, one could assess UP’s response to be targeted and well-coordinated.
Conducting vaccination drive on a mission mode makes the third most critical aspect of UP’s response to the pandemic. On Saturday (22 May), a state government official announced that vaccination drive for 18-44 years age group will commence in all district headquarters in UP form 1 June.
As of now, inoculation drive for this age group is taking place in 23 out of 75 districts of the state, the government official added. Currently, over 1.54 crore doses have been administered in the state. It has also been one of the first states to have floated a global tender to procure 4 crore vaccines. For people not having access to internet, it has opened up registrations through Common Service Centres established in all the districts.
Varanasi’s Covid management has also garnered attention for timely intervention to ramp up oxygen supply and intensify tracking, testing and treatment in the district. As a result, the positivity rate of the district has come down to about 13 per cent from a high of 40 per cent. With Prime Minister Modi’s guidance, the district administration had set up a 24*7 command and control room with 20 dedicated phone lines and round-the-clock manpower.
The Kashi COVID Response Centre became the hub of coordination between various arms of administration, as also interface with the people for a seamless management of the situation. In a short span, 2 oxygen plants were set up, a Covid hospital was built by the Defence Research and Development Organisation and hundreds of oxygen cylinders and concentrators were procured as per the need.
In Varanasi, testing was doubled from 5,000 tests per day to 12,000 tests per day, while also making sure that the results come out within 24 hours. On the instruction of the Prime Minister himself, special attention was given to contain virus in rural areas. It included distributing 70,000 medical kits in the rural hinterland of Varanasi, training healthcare staff at the primary and secondary dispensaries about oximeters and other testing equipment, among others. This resulted in a drastic reduction in distress calls, in villages, from a peak of 800 per day to about 100 per day.
The USP of UP model is the hands-on approach of the leadership in handling the crisis. For instance, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has been leading the entire administration to effectively deploy people, process and technology for the best outcome in the shortest possible time. The results continue to prove the potency of the UP model. Other states might want to learn.
As you are no doubt aware, Swarajya is a media product that is directly dependent on support from its readers in the form of subscriptions. We do not have the muscle and backing of a large media conglomerate nor are we playing for the large advertisement sweep-stake.
Our business model is you and your subscription. And in challenging times like these, we need your support now more than ever.
We deliver over 10 - 15 high quality articles with expert insights and views. From 7AM in the morning to 10PM late night we operate to ensure you, the reader, get to see what is just right.
Becoming a Patron or a subscriber for as little as Rs 1200/year is the best way you can support our efforts.