In city of Taj Mahal, coronavirus recovery bears alarming signs
On Feb. 25, a day after U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife Melania snap for pictures outside the Taj Mahal on an official visit to India, Sumit Kapoor went to his not far away home from a trip to Italy.
Kapoor, an ally in a shoe manufacturing firm, tested positive a week later for the new Covid-19 becoming the first recorded case in the northern Indian city of Agra and the origin of the country’s first big cluster of the virus.
The city of 1.6 million people, known for its 17th-century marble-domed Taj Mahal, moved fast. It set up containment zones, screened hundreds of thousands of residents and conducted escalating contact finding.
By early April, the city thought it had the virus overcome, containing cases not more than 50, while new infections escalated in other Indian cities.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government praised the “Agra Model” as a template for the country’s fight against COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Now, as the city and its hospitals fight a second wave of infections, Agra is a model of a different kind, shows how the coronavirus can flash back even after a lockdown and elaborate impoundment procedures
“If it hadn’t spread in the hospitals, we would have been able to contain it,” said Agra’s top local official, District Magistrate Prabhu N. Singh.
As India struggles with around 42,000 coronavirus infections, next only to China in Asia, Agra’s tangle with the virus offers lessons for big cities in India and elsewhere.