The Bihar Post

Weddings & social functions, not the returning migrants, contributed to Covid spread in Patna, says latest study

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PATNA—A latest sociological study over deadly pandemic has said the marriages, social functions and negligence of Covid protocols largely contributed to spread of COVID-19 infections in Patna, instead of poor returning migrants.

“Despite the return of such large number of migrants, there had not been any major spread of virus due to them. The BDOs also confirmed that there had not been any major spread of virus due to the arrival of the migrants,” says the study “Learning From COVID-19 cases — A Sociological Study of Patna District, Bihar”.

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The study was conducted by KC Saha, a former Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer and published by the Asian Development Research Institute (ADRI).

Deadly Holi rush

During the second wave, the study added, the migrant labourers did not return to Bihar in large numbers. But many families returned to Bihar during the Holi festival, which is one of the most important festivals of Bihar.

Last year, during the nationwide lockdown, the migrants faced untold hardship during their return. They were quarantined in Isolation centres and were allowed to go to their villages only after the quarantine period of 14 days. Some migrants might have reached their villages bypassing the Isolation centres.

“In many villages, the Mukhiyas and other villagers did not allow the migrants to go to their homes directly and insisted that they stayed in Isolation centres set up in the villages,” the study revealed.

The Holi festival, as such, may not have contributed much to the spread of the virus but the arrival of a large number of persons during Holi could have contributed to its spread.

Blame it on singing ladies

“Further, markets and offices remained open. Secondly, there was no restriction on the movement of people. Use of mask had increased during the second wave, but still many people did not use masks. All these factors could have contributed to the spread of virus during the second wave,” the study said.

According to the study, intermingling of people in the busy markets, marriages and other social functions also contributed largely to this spread. The infections amongst ladies increased during marriages as there is a custom in Bihar of group singing by the ladies, for the whole night for a few days before the wedding date, it said. 

Slums largely unaffected

The study noted that the virus spread had been severe in this town but the slums had only negligible impact.

The Executive Officers of the Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC), the study said, mentioned that the cases were reported from all the 75 Wards of the town but they mentioned an interesting phenomenon of Covid spread.

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“None of the slums in their areas reported a single case of Covid, whereas many VIP areas of town reported a number of cases,” the study said.

“They also mentioned that, except for 3-4 persons, none of the 7300 sanitary staff of the PMC who mostly stay in slums or their family members, had been affected by Covid,” it remarked.

Sociological aspects

The study analysed data of 23,344 positive cases and test results of Patna town reported between June, 2020 and May 15, 2021. The cases were obtained from a private laboratory.

All the tests were RTPCR tests except for 15 tests which were Antigen tests. Other primary sources of information included telephonic interviews of 200 consenting individuals residing in Patna who tested positive during the said period, and a number of government functionaries from the state to block level and elected members of local bodies.

This data focused on sociological aspects as to how families had coped with Covid-19.

Symptoms

Most of the persons interviewed mentioned that it started with fever. They also mentioned that they had sore throat. But almost all of them mentioned that they felt extremely weak.

Many complained of loss of smell and taste. In a few cases, they had breathing difficulties and had to be hospitalized.

Friends and neighbours refuse helps

Of the 200 Covid patients interviewed, more than 90 percent of them stated that they didn’t need to get hospitalized or need the services of any Covid Isolation/care centre and decided to stay at home in isolation after testing positive. Either a room or a portion of the house was used by the patient.

They also mentioned that the neighbours and friends avoided meeting them even after when they had recovered. They mentioned that, due to Covid, all social norms had broken and communication through social media became the order of the day.

Expensive treatment at private hospitals

Families where one member had to be hospitalized had to face immense problem of locating a hospital and finding a bed. They first tried the Government hospitals failing which they tried the private hospitals.

Further, the medical expense in private hospitals was matter of worry for them. The expenses incurred in private hospitals varied from hospital to hospital, ranging from Rs 4-10 lakh for a period of 10-20 days.

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