A new quarantine strategy confining to homes an estimated 7-8 lakh people is expected to cut down chances of transmission of the coronavirus in the metropolis, witnessing unabated spike in cases on a daily basis, according to a top official of the city civic body.
Apart from the containment measures, the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) was also ramping up capacity of the Covid Care centres, adding over 7,000 beds, its Commissioner G Prakash said. The Home Quarantine Monitoring System (HQMS) has been taken up in the city, under intense lockdown till June 30 in the wake of surge in cases, with about 4,500 volunteers assigned to help and monitor those under 14-day quarantine in all 15 zones of the corporation, he said.
This was in addition to measures such as door-to-door daily survey to detect people with coronavirus symptoms already being implemented in the city, which accounts for a whopping 42,752 COVID-19 cases out of the states tally of 62,087 as of Monday. The idea behind deploying volunteers in 200 divisions under the 15 zones was to help prevent those under isolation coming out of their homes for everyday needs, Prakash said.
A volunteer would cover five streets in case of high population density, and in other cases, 10 to 15 streets and buy and supply essential commodities or medicines required by the home quarantined and also monitor them to ensure they stayed indoors. About 1.20 lakh homes were covered now and it was likely to cross two lakh as the HQMS now includes 18 categories of people, including those who opted for home isolation after testing positive and patients discharged from hospitals and Covid Care Centres, he said.
Assuming each house under quarantine has four people – witheither chances of having contracted the virus or who have already tested positive -about two lakh homes under isolation would cover eight lakh people, the official said.
In effect, by putting about 7-8 lakh people who may spread the virus under home quarantine, “We are fully preventing the chances of transmission from them to others,” he said. He expressed confidence that such measures and the current 12-day intense lockdown would help reduce the case load in the city.
Primary and extended contacts, people who have given swab samples to corporation collection centres, government or private facilities and waiting for test results are also
covered under the quarantine plan. As per revised protocol, currently no exit tests are done to determine if people being discharged have turned negative or not.
If people waiting for results were not restricted, it may result in virus dispersion if they turn out to be positive later, the official said underscoring the rationale behind placing such persons under quarantine. Returnees by air, sea, train or road modes of transport also were being quarantined besides those who were traced in view of aspects like possibility of exposure to the pathogen.
On ramping-up bed capacity in Covid Care Centres in the city, he said already 17,500 beds are in place of which 12,000 have been operationalised by deputing doctors and other health care personnel. “The present bed occupancy in CCCs are only 3,000 and we still have a lot of space.”
Considering the contingency factor, however, more beds were being added under the CCC category to mainly cater to asymptomatic patients and those with mild symptoms, he said. Additionally, 2,000 and 1,200 more beds would be set up in the Anna University and the IIT-Madras premises respectively.
Also, the corporation shall soon have access to 4,500 beds in the Tamil Nadu Housing Board built tenements at Athipet near Ambattur, he said. Cumulatively, the city authorities shall have 7,700 more beds under the CCCs. “Just in case, if we need more beds, these amenities cannot be created all of a sudden and that is why we are making arrangements for more beds,” he said.
While government run facilities in the city have about 5,000 beds including the ESI Hospital, these primarily cater to those with symptoms and concomitant illnesses.