While the pandemic began sweeping across nations, fear gripped Vizag, when the city witnessed its first coronavirus case at Allipuram on 19 March 2020. A few days later, on 24 March 2020, India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, announced one of the most stringent country-wide lockdowns in the world’s history, to break the chain of infections caused by the COVID-19. Following suit, most of the citizens of Vizag observed self-isolation to flatten the curve of the outbreak.
Amid the chaos, silence had descended over the ever-bustling RK Beach Road, Jagadamba Centre, Seethammadhara, and many other areas in Vizag, which would otherwise be associated with perpetual energy. From industries to schools, shopping malls to holy shrines, the public, and private sectors came to a grinding halt. The parks and playgrounds, which once teemed with cheerful youth, wore a deserted look during the lockdown in Vizag city. An eerie silence befell the lanes of Siripuram and Dwaraka Nagar, which are usually crowded with traders, students, and employees rushing towards their destinations. However, there were a few instances, including the one in Dandu Bazaar, where people violated Covid protocol. It may be recalled that the residents of the locality indulged in playing housie (bingo) and playing cards, which resulted in the spike of the coronavirus cases.
Rising to the occasion, the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) and district authorities amped up its testing and contact tracing strategies. Identifying the containment zones in the city, the officials worked round the clock, taking sanitary and disinfection measures. Initially, a Covid testing lab was instituted at the King George Hospital. Boosting the healthcare system, the authorities introduced mobile testing centres and set up quarantine centres at hospitals, hotels, and schools. With the Central Government allowing lockdown relaxations, in a series of ‘Unlocks’, the city gradually returned to normalcy.
A year after the announcement of the lockdown, the Covid-19 threat is far from over. While the declining active cases marked a promising trend in Vizag, in February 2021, the city has been experiencing an upsurge in the cases over the past few days. On Wednesday alone, as many as 110 new COVID-19 cases were detected in the Vizag district. It may be noted that this is the highest single-day spike reported in Vizag, after 7 November 2020, when 135 infections were reported. As the experts continue to warn the citizens of Vizag to not let their guards down, it’s imperative to practice physical distancing and follow the safety measures, in view of the growing number of cases.