Why Containment zones in Delhi are on rise

Why Containment zones in Delhi are on rise

NEW DELHI: The national capital is breaking all records in having over 160 containment zones. There were a total of 163 containment zones as on Thursday, according to the Delhi government’s official data . However, a total of 59 zones were de-contained also.

The number of containment zones in the city was 147 till Monday. In a video conferencing on Thursday with Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain and Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, the Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said, “As the number of cases and fatality rises in Delhi, it needs to ramp up testing coupled with aggressive surveillance, contact tracing and stringent containment and perimeter control activities”. Harsh Vardhan had also pointed out that “the rising cases, high positivity rates and low testing levels in many districts are worrisome”.

Meanwhile, the Delhi government has given show cause notice to eight private labs for non compliance of the ICMR testing norms, including Gangaram Hospital, Fortis hospital and NCDC. The Union Health Minister in the video conferencing on Thursday said that while the average testing per million population in Delhi was 2018, some districts such as north east doing 517 tests per million population and south east 506 tests per million population were far below.

While the Delhi’s positivity rate of last week was 25.7 per cent, several districts reported figures above 38 per cent. The high rate of infection in the health care workers was also a serious issue, he added. It indicates poor infection prevention, control practices in health care settings and needs to be attended to on priority, he pointed out.

According to the Union Health Ministry, there is an immediate need and importance of scaling up testing with health infrastructure enhancements along with better clinical management of the COVID-19 cases for effective case management and reduction of fatality rate. Harsh Vardhan pointed out that the bed availability was to be rapidly increased in view of the current rapid rise of cases along with avoiding unnecessary delay in admission of cases. It clearly indicated that the government’s reluctance in admitting Covid patients and less testing, directly proportional to more transmission of the disease and thus more number of containment zones.

However, the Delhi government said that it has launched an app which shows the availability of the beds in COVID hospitals. Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Thursday said that since the launch of the Delhi corona App many people have enquired about COVID-19 beds just like “window shopping”, but there are a lesser number of actual users. The DMs and officials of the Municipal Corporations were heard saying in the meeting that the people seem to be getting complacent with following the norms regarding physical distancing during the Unlock 1.0 period. This was a major factor contributing to the new surge in cases. They discussed issues related to perimeter control in the containment zones, timely identification and classification of cases as stigma associated with COVID-19 stopped people from reporting symptoms or cases.

The Union Health Minister suggested provisioning of institutional quarantine to vulnerable populations in large clusters where home isolation is not deemed effective, needs attention too. “As a significant proportion are in home isolation, all efforts for timely response in terms of testing, triaging and shifting of patients to the required level of dedicated COVID facility is important to avoid mortality”, said Harsh Vardhan in the meeting.

Speaking to IANS doctor Shuchin Bajaj of the Internal Medicine department at Delhi’s Ujala Cygnus Orthocare Hospital, said, “As we are currently in stage 3 of coronavirus pandemic, community transmission is deeply entrenched now. So if one house gets index case, there is a big chance of a lot of people getting infected in that area. Therefore, the government has decided to increase the containment zones with proper sanitisation and social distancing guidelines inside them. In containment zones, there will be no relaxation till the end of this month.”

Akhila Kosuru, Senior Physician at Apollo Telehealth told IANS that the relaxation of mobility restrictions combined with failure on the part of the public to follow social distancing guidelines and hygienic practices has led to a spike in the number of coronavirus cases in Delhi and thus the number of containment zones are also rising. “If the trend continues, hospitals will be overwhelmed beyond their capacity, which can lead to a huge public health crisis apart from making it difficult for non-covid patients to receive proper care on time,” he said.