Indore: Despite being under strict curfew since late March and enjoying the status of India's cleanest city, Indore has acquired the dubious distinction of recording a very high coronavirus mortality rate.
Till Friday morning, the city had recorded 842 COVID- 19 cases, and the 47 deaths here since the outbreak began less than a month ago are 10.75 per cent of the 437 fatalities recorded across the country.
The 5.58 per cent death rate in the city is itself above the national average, officials point out.
Madhya Pradesh has so far recorded 1,299 coronavirus cases and 63 deaths, with Indore leading other cities on both counts by a wide margin.
While the outbreak, the rapidly rising number of infections and the resultant deaths are the staple of almost all conversations here, Indore Divisional Commissioner Akash Tripathi defended the administration over its handling of the health crisis in Madhya Pradesh's commercial capital.
"Of the first 30 people who died of COVID-19 here, 22 had co-morbidities like diabetes, high BP and other ailments. A majority of them got admitted when their conditions had turned serious," Tripathi said.
While some social activists have claimed the numbers being tested for the infection are inadequate, Tripathi said the government laboratory here had increased testing from 40 samples a day in the initial period of the outbreak to 300 per day now.
"We have sought permission from the government to allow two private labs to test samples," he said, adding so far, 3,500 samples have been tested in Indore, a majority of them falling in the high risk category.
As on Friday, there are 155 containment areas, covering almost 6 lakh residents in a city of 30 lakh, and curfew continues to be in force since March 25 when the first COVID-19 case was detected here.
Meanwhile, authorities continue to maintain there was no threat of community transmission in the city.
"The new COVID-19 cases are mainly of those who are either related to or have known the earlier patients. Such persons are already quarantined and, therefore, the question of community transmission does not arise," Chief Medical and Health Officer Praveen Jadia said.
On Thursday, five people died in Indore of the infection, of which two were brothers, 63 and 52 years of age, both bullion businessmen.
"I got my father and uncle admitted in a private hospital on Tuesday but they died within two days. My father had no ailment while my uncle was suffering from high blood pressure. We are still to come to terms with the deaths, all of this having happened so quickly," one of the bullion traders son said.
He said the protocol in place for those dying of the infection meant the family could not even catch a last glimpse of their loved ones during the last rites.
All 16 members in the family of the two deceased have been quarantined and the civic body's health department is overseeing arrangements.
Meanwhile, to give more teeth to efforts to contain the outbreak, the state government posted 102 doctors to Indore on April 11, though several of them are yet to join work.
The state has now warned that it would invoke the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) to get them to fall in line.