MYSURU: It was well past the duty time when the COVID-19 war room in Mysuru was informed about the death of a patient tested positive posthumously. While they scrambled to trace his contacts, his wife was also shifted to designated hospital with severe co-morbidities and the grieving family members were non-responsive to calls. This would sound like a dead-end for contact tracing elsewhere, but not in Mysuru.
Stepping up efforts, war room officials sent their counsellor suited up in PPE for a direct conversation with family members, and in no time the data was yielded and passed to the surveillance team to trace the contacts.
This is one of the several instances which takes Mysuru's COVID-19 war room ahead of its counterparts elsewhere in the state.
In contrast, Mysuru's war room nodal officer Lokanath claims that among the entire case loads of the district, all contacts except for one individual, have been traced and accounted for, which would amount to 2002 primary and 3,480 secondary contacts so far as well as 4,293 interstate and 24,700 inter-district travellers and 166 international.
However, as the district reached second round of cases where a majority are with extensive contact history or from random sampling, the war room which is functioning out of the DHO office is on overdrive to contain the situation.
According to Lokanath, the situation now is different since unlike the first wave where it was confined mostly to the Nanjangud cluster, now there are many SARI and ILI cases as well as asymptomatic ones where the travel history of past 16 days must be traced instead of 14 otherwise.
However, Lokanath and his team comprising Shivanna, Nirmala Matapathi, Nischai, Geetha and Jeevan picked from different departments are confident of handling the situation with their unique model involving real time involvement of police personnel at the war room itself and other tech aids.
The war room has five ASIs stationed on the spot and uses call data record to cross verify the travel history conveyed by patients and their contacts through a three-page questionnaire unique for the district which even asks about the last cylinder refill and cash transactions to trace contacts.
Also, to ensure that those in home quarantine do not step out, they have put up a monitoring system which works by geofencing the cellphones of individuals, a brainchild of district surveillance officer Dr T Shivaprasad with which alerts are given real time about violations.
With the increase in cases, the war room that currently has a nodal officer under whom a team of five work, will get two more officials and their subordinates.
Appreciating the efforts of the team, Deputy Commissioner Abhiram G Sankar said the team has been doing a commendable job since. "Unlike earlier, where cases came from the same set of people, now different kind of cases are coming and they have been working very hard," he said.
Officials' tryst with language, lies
Officials in war room deal with a lot of issues like handling those who deliberately hide information and language barrier.
Nodal officer Lokanath said in the case of a patient from Nanjangud, where the patient's family members only spoke Telugu, he had to personally interview them in their language.
Similarly, war room officials spoke about their ordeal with a patient who claimed to have travelled to Padarayanapura but after a detailed investigation including verification with CDR, it was revealed that he had travelled to a place bordering Maharashtra.
Counsellor Navidulla Sheriff also had instances where he had to use his proficiency in Urdu and win the trust of Tablighis for collecting information from them about their travel history.