ERODE: Erode was the second district to report COVID-19 cases in the State. There was a spurt in the number of cases within a fortnight and the district was declared a hotspot with 70 coronavirus positive cases. However, the district moved from red to orange zone with 99 per cent recovery rate within a month. Thanks to all health workers and the district administration for working relentlessly, undeterred by the pandemic disease.
Lauding them, Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine Dr K Kolandaswamy said, "Early detection, aggressive contact tracing and frequent disinfection drives are the strategies that helped to effectively break the chain in a short span of time."
Rapid detection of asymptomatic carriers
The district was exposed to COVID-19 infection through Thailand natives who were staying at a mosque in Sultanpet. "On March 16, they were traced and shifted to Government Erode Medical College Hospital in Perundurai. Their immediate contacts were also traced by the police officials," said Collector C Kathiravan.
"The case count increased with the return of Thai nationals from Delhi to Erode after attending Tablighi Jaamat congregation. Initially, 27 people were identified, and their contacts were traced in a couple of days. A massive drive to identify the contacts between March 23 and 25 helped to break the chain effectively," said Superintendent of Police (SP) S Sakthi Ganesan.
Ruthless containment works
In no time, measures were taken to cordon off areas where positive cases were reported and containment zones were declared. "I went to houses in the containment zones and gave them confidence that we can overcome the situation by following strict protocols. The residents were educated about social distancing, quarantine measures and facilities made for them during the lockdown," the collector said, adding that the health staff monitored over 1.60 lakh people in 18 containment zones in the district.
Besides, the municipal corporation had shifted the 2.73-acre vegetable market to the New Bus Stand (15 acre) while smaller markets were put up on the school grounds to avoid crowding. To reduce the inflow of patients in government hospitals, the corporation had arranged two mobile clinics.
Rigorous testing, disinfection drive
Over 3,500 throat swabs were tested and around 200 swabs were collected every day besides conducting micro-level screening in 80 per cent of the houses in the corporation limits. Also, the database of those with SARI and Influenza in the district was secured and they were all tested for COVID-19. A total of 1,500 antenatal mothers are being monitored by the health staff.
The corporation had deployed over 1,500 sanitary workers to disinfect the district. Corporation Commissioner M Elangovan said that one sanitary worker would cover fifty houses twice a day, especially in the containment zones. This way, around 2.5 crore was spent on disinfection drive.
Boosting the immunity of frontline workers
All health and sanitary workers, and police personnel were given kabasura kudineer and high protein diet. They were also tested for viral infection twice during the containment drive. Besides, three sets of groceries, eggs and rice were provided to sanitary workers with funds from NGOs.
Action plan for future
"Many travelers are desperately finding ways to by-pass police check posts to enter the district. This might cause big trouble for all. So, we request the travellers to adhere to the norms and help us curb the spread of infection," the SP said, adding that the aggressive testing shall continue.