After the success of Hivare Bazaar, another small village in Ahmednagar, Bhoyare Khurd has achieved 'zero-Covid' status after practising isolation and other Covid-appropriate behaviour, officials said here on Tuesday.
The development comes close on the heels of Nanded's Bhosi village earning the Centre's laurels after its 6,000-strong population managed to isolate the coronavirus and notched success as the country is battling the second wave of the pandemic.
Bhoyare Khurd, with 1,500 people, on the outskirts of Ahmednagar town, is located in a hilly, drought-hit region of the otherwise prosperous and green district.
A majority of the villagers are migrants working in Mumbai, Pune and other big cities, but after the lockdowns were imposed many chose to return home.
Initially, barely 3 or 4 Covid-19 cases were detected in the village after which the Gram Panchayat and Health Department launched a full-fledged drive to test the families of the infectees, suspects and symptomatic patients were immediately isolated.
Not wanting to become scourge-hit, the villagers resolved to keep themselves safe and the village itself free of the virus with a series of initiatives.
Accordingly, all families were checked regularly with the help of ASHA and Anganwadi workers, any found infected were immediately isolated and other treatment was continued.
"If they were found with symptoms of fever, cough or fatigue, they were subjected to Antigen tests and quarantined," said Dr. Savita Kute, the village medico involved in the effort.
The village authorities also launched a widespread awareness campaign at the temple loudspeakers to convey Covid-appropriate behaviour daily in the morning and evening, they were informed about the disease, how to take care of self and families, stressing on wearing masks, physical distancing, washing hands, hygiene, regular checkups, etc, said Dr. Kute.
In fact, after the state-wide lockdown was announced last month, Bhoyare Khurd Gram Panchayat implemented its own 'Gaon Band' campaign to prevent any further spread of the virus, said the Sarpanch Rajendra Ambekar.
"The suspected persons were persuaded to stay at the isolation centre in the village which helped break the virus chain and now we have become a 'Corona-free' village If other villages adopt our village's examples, they can also quickly drive away the virus," said Ambekar.
Initially, it was difficult to convince people to undergo isolation, but later they understood the threats and accepted the reality after which it was easier to quarantine the patients, said village volunteer Nand Kishore Devkar.
With this, Bhoyare Khurd becomes the third village after Hivare Bazaar (both in Ahmednagar district) and Nanded's Bhosi which are now flying the 'corona-free' flags.
Maharashtra has till date recorded 89,212 Covid-19 fatalities and 56,02,019 cases, besides 327,580 'active cases' with nearly 28-lakh people in home or institutional quarantine.