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New Delhi: Most districts in the three poll-bound states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Manipur have figured in the category of districts that potentially face the “highest vulnerability” due to COVID-19 as the third wave of the pandemic spreads across the country. In precise terms, 95 out of 113 districts in these three states, where elections are barely a few weeks away, are susceptible to COVID-19 more than others, Indian Express has reported.
According to the Vulnerability of Districts for COVID-19 report, released by one of the empowered groups constituted by the Centre on coronavirus, 65 out of the 75 districts in Uttar Pradesh, 21 of 22 districts in Punjab, and nine of 16 districts in Manipur are listed under ‘Category 1′ and Category 2’, after 714 districts across the country have been categorised into four sets of districts based on COVID-19 scenario.
The level of vulnerability is marked in the decreasing order from ‘Category 1’ to ‘Category 4’, with ‘Category 1’ indicating the highest level of vulnerability, Category 4 representing the lowest.
Under ‘Category 1’, 99 districts spread across 15 states are listed. The poll-bound state of Uttar Pradesh accounts for 39 districts under this category, followed by 13 districts in Jharkhand and 11 districts in Bihar. Other poll-bound states of Punjab, with nine districts, and Manipur, with two districts, figure under this category.
No district from Uttarakhand and Goa, where assembly polls are scheduled in the next two months, figure in the vulnerable categories.
As many as 212 districts across the country figure under ‘Category 2’. Madhya Pradesh with 35 districts tops this category, followed by Uttar Pradesh (26), Bihar (22) and Gujarat (21). Twelve districts of Punjab and seven districts of Manipur, where assembly elections are coming up, also figure under this category.
As for ‘Category 3’, there are 299 districts from across the country. Eight districts from Uttar Pradesh (Ghaziabad, Gautam Buddha Nagar, Gorakhpur, Bareilly, Jhansi, Rae Bareli, Meerut and Varanasi), one (Shahid Bhagat Singh Nagar) in Punjab and two in Manipur (Chandel and Jiribam) make it to this category. Apart from the poll-bound states, 23 districts of Assam, followed by 22 districts in Tamil Nadu figure under this category.
While 104 districts have been listed under ‘Category 4’, only two districts from Uttar Pradesh (Lucknow and Kanpur Nagar) and three in Manipur (Imphal East, Imphal West and Kakching) have made it to this category representing the lowest vulnerability to COVID-19. Apart from the poll-bound states, Maharashtra and Kerala accounting for 13 districts each, followed by Karnataka (9) and Arunachal Pradesh (8) have been listed under this category.
The districts have been marked on the vulnerability index based on two parameters: a. prior confirmed exposure to COVID-19 (proportion of the population infected) and b. coverage of vaccination (two doses) as on December 30, 2021. Accordingly, 714 districts in the country have been categorised.
While ‘Category 1’ represents districts with prior confirmed COVID-19 exposure less than 0.5% and vaccination (both doses) coverage less than 50%, thereby emerging on the top on the vulnerability index, ‘Category 2’ includes districts with prior confirmed COVID-19 exposure 0.5-2.5% and vaccination coverage less than 50%, or prior COVID-19 exposure below 0.5% and vaccination above 50%.
As for ‘Category 3’, districts which had prior confirmed COVID-19 exposure above 2.5% and vaccination coverage less than 50%, or prior COVID-19 exposure 0.5-2.5% and vaccination coverage above 50% have been listed.
Districts with prior COVID-19 exposure above 2.5% and vaccination coverage above 50% have been listed under Category 4.
The Vulnerability of Districts for COVID-19 report calls for ramping up health facilities and expediting vaccination drives in Category 1 and 2 districts. “Rapidly scale up the second dose of vaccination in Category-1 and Category-2 districts. This is most urgently for the Category-1 districts in particular,” says the report.
“Ensure all-round preparedness in Category-1 and Category-2 districts: health facility readiness (beds, ICUs), testing, HR (human resource), medicines, oxygen, as also home care support,” it adds.
The assembly elections in the states of Punjab, Goa and Uttarakhand will be held on February 14, while elections in Uttar Pradesh will be held in seven phases from February 10 to March 7. In Manipur, the election will be held in two phases, on February 27 and March 3. The counting of votes will be on March 10.
In the wake of the third wave, the Election Commission said that until January 15, no roadshows, bike yatras, cycles yatra or padayatras will be allowed. Given the dynamic situation, the Election Commission will review the situation on January 15 and take a call on whether or not to continue with such curbs.