CHENNAI: As the State heads into June with the number of cases soaring each day, experts are of the opinion that the new COVID-19 containment strategy must be surveillance-based, focussing on elderly people and those with co-morbid conditions, as that would help reduce the mortality rate.
Previous strategies aimed at containing the virus spread and even for one case, a whole street was cordoned. However, by mid-May, the State revised its policy and decided not to cordon off streets and only contain individual houses or apartments.
Additionally, from testing and isolating secondary contacts, the State has now even stopped testing asymptomatic primary contacts of patients.
Experts say that this dilution of strategies will not help mitigate the crisis, and now the focus must be to reduce the number of deaths and protect the vulnerable. "In the beginning, we focussed on everyone. Now, we must concentrate on the vulnerable," said former Director of Public Health Dr K Kolandasamy.
"If a person tests positive, it is important to identify the vulnerable population in that locality. Preventing death must be State’s priority," he said. Dr Kolandasamy opined that cordoning off a whole street would not work anymore as the virus has spread everywhere.
"Data sampling of patients is a crucial part of containment strategy. If we have samples of the area, social strata and economic indexes, the samples would be universal and will help in identifying high risk population," he added.
"We cordon a street only if there are five index cases and 20 contacts who are positive. Otherwise, we just seal off a house," Special Officer for handling the crisis in Chennai Dr J Radhakrishnan said.
In case the ground-staff did not cordon off any house that had a patient, then it would be corrected as soon as it is brought to the attention of the corporation. "Every single person in the State must wear mask. This is a much simpler solution than the lockdown," says virologist Dr Jacob John, who also believes that the focus now must be to protect the senior citizens.
The city now has just 254 containment zones, following declassification of 897 zones. Many residents have alleged that streets and houses, which had Covid positive cases, were not cordoned off