Hyderabad: The municipality of Hyderabad has made a major change to its strategy to contain the coronavirus in what are called containment zones. Henceforth, when a Covid-19 case is detected in a house, it will not rush in to declare a wide area covering 100 houses around it as a containment zone. From now on only that house will be treated as a containment zone.
Public movement will be allowed in the locality, only the movement of persons mandated to be in home quarantine will be restricted.
However, officials said, barricading will continue to be be done for the entire neighbourhood and vehicle owners will have to park outside the fencing.
So why is this being done? Why is the minimum containment zone being shrunk? According to highly placed sources in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), this is being done to cut costs.
This decision came after a 28-year-old ambulance driver tested positive on April 27 in Malkajgiri circle of GHMC and was shifted to Gandhi Hospital. His primary and secondary contacts were tracked to Mahbubabad and Suryapet districts. There was no one in his house but in blind obedience of containment guidelines, 30 officials were deployed in the area guarding the vacant house.
According to the same highly placed sources, it was then decided to shrink the definition of a containment zone, Smaller places to guard will require fewer men and materiel.
So from now on if a Covid-19 positive person’s primary contact is home quarantined in an apartment, the entire apartment will be considered as a containment area. The local sanitary field assistant will be in touch with the quarantined persons to supply essential services and medicines.
Further, though the containment area guidelines mandate 24/7 duty, the health department has scaled it down. It has asked its two-member staff including auxiliary nurse and midwife (ANM) and Asha worker to work from 8 am to 8 pm in a single shift.
A senior GHMC official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that to minimise the containment area, municipality health teams will conduct a survey within a 1 km radius of where the primary contacts of a Covid-19 patient are home quarantined. He said that the teams will notify the number of persons with connections to people residing in a one kilometre radius.
“The teams will make a note of persons with diabetes, heart-related diseases, advanced pregnancy cases and others. After conducting this exercise, officials from the district collectorate, GHMC, health department and police will visit the place for cross verification and check the surveillance of the contained area. This will be done on the first day after the primary contact of Covid-19 patient is home quarantined. Focus will be on only one house or the apartment building. Containment activities like spraying disinfectants and sanitation activities will be done in a 1 km area as per the protocol,” the official added.
The corporation official said that the health status of persons adjacent to a containment area will be checked by medical officials daily. "We think this would be a better model for cost cutting and reduce panic in the containment area,” he said citing the case of the ambulance driver whose empty house in Malkajgiri has been under surveillance by 30 officials since April 27 even though he is in hospital and his primary contacts are in Mahabubabad and Suryapet districts. After studying such instances, the government has come to the conclusion that containment should be restricted only to an individual building, the official added.