NEW DELHI: The Centre on Saturday asked the states to carry out active surveillance for identifying COVID cases in all urban slums by recording influenza-like symptoms and checking temperature and blood oxygen levels of nearly seven crore individuals. As per 2011 Census, there are 2613 towns or cities with such settlements with 6.54 crore population residing in 1.39 crore households, representing 17.4 percent of all urban population.
This would have increased in number further since last few years, said a guideline on “Preparedness and response to Covid-19 in Urban Settlements” issued by the Health ministry. The government has made it clear that while pre-symtomatic or those Covid patients with mild symptoms are being allowed to stay at home under certain conditions, infected patients or suspects in urban slums will have to be quarantined institutionally.
“This direction has been given provided keeping in mind the dense population of these settlements and the practical issues the residents face,” a senior health ministry official said. “We do not want what is happening in Dharavi to be replicated in other urban slums. A significant percentage of population might have migrated to villages but people there should be thoroughly examined and guided.” The guideline also said that quarantine facilities should be set up in school, stadium, etc in nearby areas where a large number of high risk contacts can be accommodated.
“Shifting of high risk contacts (elderly and those with co-morbid conditions) is a crucial intervention to minimise the spread of disease in such persons, thereby limiting morbidity and mortality among them,” it said. “A contingency plan will also be in place to move high risk population to alternate or temporary sites.” The guidelines come soon after Union health secretary Preeti Sudan held a meeting with health secretaries, DMs and municipal heads of 30 municipal areas from 12 states, with highest Covid loads.
These 30 areas from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Odisha have nearly 80 per cent of total Covid cases in India as of now. Sudan underlined factors to be considered while mapping the containment and buffer zones; the activities mandated in containment zone like perimeter control, active search for cases through house to house surveillance, contact tracing and testing protocol, clinical management of the active case. The Centre also stressed on the surveillance activities in the buffer zone like monitoring of Severe Acute Respiratory Illnesses and ILI cases, ensuring social distancing and promoting hand hygiene.
Packed lanes make it tough in Dharavi Mumbai’s Dharavi — Asia’s largest slum — is proving to be a challenge for health and administration officials. It had 1,145 cases and 53 deaths till Saturday