CCN is conducting awareness and testing drives in the state’s rural areas, as well as setting up field hospitals

Dramatic effect: A street play by CCN to raise Covid awareness

HOW DOES ONE explain the danger of Covid to people who have little direct experience of it—such as the people of Ayodhya Hills in West Bengal’s Purulia? Members of the Covid Care Network (CCN) were faced with this problem while on a Covid-awareness drive.

For instance, the village headman of Ayodhya Hills said, “Covid is a phenomenon of polluted city life. It will never reach us.” It took some nimble arguments—such as asking what would happen if an infected person was to travel to their village—to convince people that mask wearing was essential. CCN members also made use of popular folk art, like Chhau dances and street plays, to explain what exactly Covid was, and the hundreds of people it was killing each day.

Having already worked extensively in the state’s urban areas, during the second wave of Covid, CCN has focused its attention on rural areas. “Infrastructure is seriously wanting,” says Satyarup Siddhanta, a member of CCN. “You won’t even get an ambulance here. [To help], we have converted e-rickshaws into makeshift ambulances. We are also holding medical camps and identifying those who need to be isolated and those who need testing and hospitalisation.” One of the group’s primary objectives is to set up field hospitals with 20 oxygen beds each in rural areas to supplement primary health care facilities. For instance, while conducting a survey at Patharpratima in South 24 Parganas, they found that despite the 8,000-odd Covid cases in the area, the closest hospital with oxygen beds was 25 kilometers away. “Ten districts have been chosen where field hospitals can be set up quickly. Two in Birbhum will be ready next week.”

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