Srikakulam is one of only two districts in the state not to have a single COVID case. Collector J Nivas tells G Ramesh Babu how the administration is working to keep the virus at bay. Excerpts
How are you monitoring quarantined persons?
QR code has been given to each quarantined person in the district. A mobile application has been developed for the purpose. Officials scan the QR code twice a day and the data gets uploaded on the official website automatically. One official has been deputed to monitor 10 quarantined persons.
How many people have been kept in home isolation in the district?
We have kept as many as 6,000 people, including foreign returnees and those who returned from Delhi, Mumbai and other major cities, in home isolation. More than 200 fishermen who returned from Mangaluru have also been isolated. We are also planning to quarantine people who returned from other districts of the state as a precautionary measure.
How are you identifying the foreign returnees and those from other states?
We have conducted door-to-door surveys thrice in the district to identify the foreign returnees and those who returned from Delhi, Mumbai and other places. In collaboration with the Indian Railways and Telecom, we have obtained the phone numbers and residential addresses of the people who returned from other States. We have identified all those who returned to Srikakulam from foreign countries between March 12 and 22.
As Srikakulam is a state border, how are you restricting the entry of migrant workers coming by foot from Odisha, Jharkhand and Bihar?
Special teams have been posted at the district borders at Ranasthalam and Ichchapuram on the national highway. Similarly, quarantine centres have also been set up in the border areas. About 230 persons have been shifted to the quarantine camps from Ranasthalam border in the last three days. As the district has a 175 km national highway, we will not allow even pedestrians to enter Srikakulam to go to other states. We have also shifted 150 people returned from Telangana and West Godavari to the isolation centres.
How many people are in quarantine camps?
Currently, 669 persons are in 31 quarantine centres in the district.
How many samples have been sent for testing?
We have sent 549 samples for testing. Of them, 278 havve tested negative. Results of the remaining are awaited. We have deployed five mobile teams for collection of samples from various places. We have designated a sample collection booth to ensure the safety of the medical team on duty.
How are you shifting the suspected to the isolation wards from community health centres?
An auto-rickshaw has been provided to each CHC in the district. They use it to shift people with suspected symptoms of coronavirus to isolation wards in Srikakulam, besides deploying ambulances. Only one is allowed to travel in a vehicle. The auto and the driver is sanitised after dropping the patient at the isolation ward. Protective gears have also been given to the auto drivers.
How many isolation beds have been made ready?
Currently, there are 90 isolation beds in the Government General Hospital in Srikakulam. GEMS Hospital, which is designated as COVID-19 hospital, has 800 beds, including 30 in the ICU. Similarly, GMR, Golivi and Santhi hospitals are also ready with isolation beds to treat coronavirus patients.
What are the other preventive steps taken to curb COVID-19 spread?
For the first time in the state, we have scattered the location of rythu bazaars, and fish, chicken and meat markets in the district to ensure social distancing. Essential commodities worth `1,000 have been provided to each foreign returnee for the quarantine period. Telepsychiatry and telemedicine services have also been introduced in the district for the benefit of those in isolation. The administration has also taken up door delivery of essential commodities, vegetables and medicines to ensure that the people remain indoors during the ongoing lockdown. We have collected samples from each foreign returnee twice for testing.
How are you taking care of yourself to stay safe from COVID-19?
I always observe social distance while discharging my duties. Similarly, I clean my hands with sanitiser very often. I use a N95 mask too. I enter my home only after taking a bath so that my family remains safe. I have also asked all district officials and people who come to me for various works, to maintain social distance always as a precautionary measure.