IMPLEMENTATION of a five-point programme and inculcating a sense of responsibility among people was the mainstay of various measures undertaken by Ruturaj Deshmukh, the youngest Sarpanch in Maharashtra, and his task force to rid their village in Solapur district of coronavirus. Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray in his virtual address to the people on Sunday had lauded Deshmukh’s contribution and appealed to all Sarpanchs in the State to draw inspiration in the battle against the pandemic while announcing “My Village Corona Free” initiative. The Ghatne village of which Deshmukh (21) is the Sarpanch has a population of 1,500.
The village had not reported any COVID-19 cases from March 2020 to April 2021. “But in the first week of April, we had two COVID-19 cases but both the patients died. This triggered panic and many people started leaving their homes to live in their farms,” he recalled on Monday. At this stage, Deshmukh said, he decided to involve all stakeholders and create awareness about fighting coronavirus. “My mantra was to be positive in outlook with confidence that we can keep our village free of coronavirus,” Deshmukh told PTI over the phone. Talking about the efforts, the Sarpanch said, he and his team framed a five-point programme involving tracing, testing, treatment, vaccination and adherence to COVID-appropriate behaviour. “Moreover, ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) workers were roped in who visited every house in the village to check the blood oxygen level and body temperature of its occupants,” he said.
The villagers whose blood oxygen level is found to be below 92 are shifted to either isolation centres or to COVID Care Centres in Mohol taluka, which is 4 km away from the village, he said. Simultaneously, “corona safety kits” comprising a face mask, hand sanitizer, disinfectant, and vitamin tablets, were supplied to the people. A steam machine was kept at the Gram Panchayat office which can be used by anybody in need, he added. Deshmukh said, residents who have to travel outside for work are randomly tested while outsiders coming to village are quarantined for three days and made to undergo a Rapid antigen test.