While major districts like Lucknow, Varanasi, Prayagraj and Kanpur continue to be the worst-affected by the pandemic, recorded deaths due to COVID-19 doubled or tripled in 15 districts in Uttar Pradesh, including in many smaller and relatively rural centres, over the past three weeks.
In another three dozen-odd districts, the death toll also increased substantially over the same period. U.P. has 75 districts.
From April 15 to May 5, the death count doubled or tripled in Hathras, Kasganj, Mahoba, Chitrakoot, Bhadohi, Hamirpur, Baghpat, Amethi, Auraiya, Jalaun, Banda, Ghaziabad, Sonbhadra, Chandauli and Gautam Buddha Nagar, as per the official data of the State health department.
The death toll in Kasganj increased five-fold from six to 30; Mahoba 13 to 34; Chitrakoot 17 to 50; Bhadohi 31 to 63; Hamirpur 21 to 61; Auraiya 50 to 106; Jalaun 53 to 136; Banda 48 to 118; Baghpat 36 to 76; Amethi 44 to 88; Chandauli 76 to 204; and Sonbhadra 82 to 161. While the death toll almost tripled in Ghaziabad from 104 to 288, a similar trajectory was seen in neighbouring Gautam Buddha Nagar, where the recorded deaths rose from 98 to 271.
Mahoba, Banda, Hamirpur, Chitrakoot and Jalaun are all in the drought-prone region of Bundelkhand, while Auraiya, Sonbhadra and Chandauli are among the backward and rural-dominated districts in the State.
In more than three dozen other districts, including many small and backward centres, the deaths due to COVID-19 have seen a steady and substantial rise. In the last two weeks, opponents of the ruling BJP as well its own MLAs and teachers’ unions have said COVID-19 was rapidly spreading in rural U.P., with many blaming the recently concluded panchayat polls for the increase in cases and deaths.
In Kannauj, the deaths rose from 55 to 86; Basti 100 to 182; Hapur 68 to 105; Balrampur 38 to 78; Raebareli 127 to 205; Shahjahanpur 127 to 203; Ballia 119 to 179; Hardoi 119 to 190; and Etawah 111 to 208.
The State government on May 5 launched a testing drive for COVID-19 in all 97,000 revenue villages. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath instructed officials to carry out door-to-door screenings and check the temperatures and oxygen levels of persons and carry out tests of those with symptoms.
The State on Thursday recorded 26,789 new positive cases out of the 2.25 lakh samples tested, as against the 31,165 positive cases out of the 2.32 lakh samples tested on Wednesday. The number of daily deaths dropped marginally over the past 24 hours from 357 to 353.
On Thursday, Lucknow recorded 65 deaths, while 49 died in Kanpur, which has officially recorded 161 deaths in three days.
The State government said it was conducting an average of 2.2.5 lakh tests daily.
In the screenings conducted by monitoring committees in the villages, 69,474 persons were found to be symptomatic and when tested for antigen, 3,551 were found positive, Mr. Adityanath said. They were provided medical kits for home isolation, he added.
“Doctors should be in constant contact with these patients through tele-consultation. Higher medical facilities should also be provided to them as per the requirement. This campaign of village-to-village testing is very useful in protecting villages from the infection,” Mr. Adityanath told officials.