How will India move forward in the fight against Covid19 after the 21 days of national lockdown that is slated to end on April 14? This question may be lingering in the minds of a large number of people.
A document titled ‘Containment Plan for Large Outbreaks’ which is available in the website of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare may offer some answers in this regard. India seems to have taken a very thoughtful path, as the proposed plan meticulously explains the possible roadmap in the fight against COVID-19 in the days to come.
Earlier, we had explained how India took systematic measures in every step ever since the global pandemic outbreak began. You may refer to our infographics From Early Recognition to Lockdown – The Timeline of Modi Govt’s Battle Against COVID-19 for all the facts.
Cluster-based Approach/Geographical Quarantine
By now, the government is equipped with all the data about the zones where infections are more and those classified as the red zones of infections.
In this context, the description in the proposed plan about the geographical quarantine gives you an idea of things as they are evolving over the next few days. It states,
“Geographic quarantine (cordon sanitaire) strategy calls for near absolute interruption of movement of people to and from a relatively large defined geographic area where there is single large outbreak or multiple foci of local transmission of COVID-19. In simple terms, it is a barrier erected around the focus of infection. Geographic quarantine shall be applicable to such areas reporting large outbreak and/or multiple clusters of COVID-19 spread over multiple blocks of one or more districts that are contiguous.”
Containment and Buffer Zones
If a city, district or a village is affected, the adjoining areas will be treated as buffer zones and the restrictions will be placed on both. The relevant part from the document is presented here.
Some Broad Points from the Document
While this containment plan proposes all the options in respect to the laws, logistics, healthcare infrastructure and other things, we will only examine some broader points. This perhaps gives an idea about how the post-lockdown India may look-like.
- Surveillance in containment zone, including contact listing, tracking and follow up shall be carried out as detailed in Cluster Containment Plan.
- Passive Surveillance shall be enhanced all throughout the area under geographic quarantine and districts surrounding it for ILI and SARI cases. All hospitalized patients with Severe Acute Respiratory Illness shall also be tested for COVID-19.
- The perimeter control will ensure that there is no unchecked outward movement of population from the containment zone except for maintaining essential services.
- All roads including rural roads connecting the containment zone will be guarded by Police.
- Those who have to enter such geographically quarantined areas shall be given a chemo-prophylactic dose of hydroxy-chloroquine. All vehicles moving out of the perimeter control will be decontaminated with sodium hypochlorite (1%) solution.
- All mass gathering events and meetings in public or private places, in the containment and buffer zones shall be cancelled/banned till such time as the area is declared to be free of COVID-19.
- if there are major bus transit hubs or railway stations in the containment zone, the same would be made dysfunctional temporarily.
- The field staff brought in for the surveillance activities and that for providing perimeter control need to be accommodated within the containment zone. Facilities such as schools, community buildings, etc. will be identified for sheltering. Catering arrangement will have to be made at these locations.
- The operations will be scaled down if no secondary laboratory confirmed COVID-19 case is reported from the geographic quarantine zone for at least four weeks after the last confirmed test has been isolated and all his contacts have been followed up for 28 days.
As one can see from the proposed containment plan, the Indian administration is working seamlessly and relentlessly in planning, coordinating and easing the life of common people in every step in the fight against COVID-19.