Revamped action plan for Delhi to fight virus
Shah, Kejriwal, LG decide to tighten containment
New Delhi: The Centre and the Delhi government agreed on Sunday to revamp the action plan to control the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in the national capital, laying emphasis on the need for more effective containment and tracing efforts, widening the scope of detecting infections and intensifying social distancing and surveillance at the ground level to tackle the outbreak at a time when the case count has risen to 59,746.
Union home minister Amit Shah chaired a meeting attended by Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, deputy CM Manish Sisodia, lieutenant governor Anil Baijal, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan and other senior officials to discuss the action plan. The strategy has been prepared in consultation with AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) director general Dr Balram Bhargava and Niti Aayog member Dr VK Paul, according to people aware of the developments.
An official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said five key recommendations were: an improved containment tactic; wider tracing of a patient’s contacts; rapid antibody testing to gauge the prevalence of the disease; close involvement of the police to enforce social distancing norms; and inclusion of epidemiologists at the district level to augment the health care efforts. The Delhi Police commissioner will spearhead efforts to impose fines on people violating norms on social distancing and wearing face masks. “The detailed discussions were needed as there is a need to have a foolproof implementation of this plan. Various layers of the government machinery will be involved in the implementation stage. We need smooth coordination as well as good management,” the official said. Shah has held a series of meetings with Baijal, Kejriwal and senior officials over the past week over the strategy to augment Delhi’s health care infrastructure amid the Covid-19 outbreak. The infectious disease has so far killed 2,175 people in Delhi, with 31% of the total cases in the Capital being reported over the last week. The central government official said at the meeting that Delhi accounted for 24% of all new cases and 25% of the Covid-19 deaths reported in the country in the last two days, adding that there was a need to overhaul the strategy in the Capital. As part of the action plan, the Delhi government will revamp the way it decides containment zones and sets their boundaries, a second official present at the meeting said, asking not to be named.
A high-level committee led by
Dr Paul has given a timeline under which the Delhi government will prepare a strategy by Monday and form district-level teams by Tuesday to revise the strategy by June 26. The committee said that there should be 100% survey of all containment zones by June 30, and by July 6, there should be an extensive survey of the entire Capital, according to a statement by the home ministry.
As of Sunday night, there were 261 containment zones in Delhi. Strict perimeter control is maintained in the containment zones, with restrictions on the movement of people. While the discussions acknowledged that Delhi’s contact-tracing efforts showed good results in early days of the outbreak, a decision was taken to expand the tracing beyond family members of an infected person, the official said. “So, both contacttracing and surveillance has to improve and for this purpose, the faculty and 3rd and 4th year students of Delhi hospitals will be engaged,” said the official.