Explained – Agra Model for COVID-19
Agra has been lauded by the central government for successful cluster containment that it credits with controlling the spread of coronavirus in the Uttar Pradesh district.
Agra was the first identified cluster in India, and continues to have one of the highest district-wise caseloads. However, its success lies in being able to stop the disease from spreading beyond clusters, or areas where positive cases were first detected.
Key points –
District magistrate of Agra said their success was the result of focusing on three key points — isolation, expansion and containment.
Cluster identification –
- There is no official definition of a COVID-19 cluster but it can be described as an area with a high caseload.
- The cluster containment strategy is meant to contain the disease within the defined geographical area by making early detections and breaking the chain of transmission.
- On the ground, the containment strategy is implemented by rapid response teams that comprise civic and police personnel working in coordination with grassroots health workers such as assisted social health activists (ASHAs).
- The approach primarily consists of promptly checking and sensitising every household within a 3-km radius of a house/property where a person has been diagnosed.
- This area is demarcated as a containment zone, which means complete prohibition on entry and exit except for the delivery of essentials. Adjoining areas in a certain radius are marked as a buffer zone.
Electronic surveillance –
- The infected person is asked to divulge the places they visited and people they met over the 14 days preceding diagnosis (the incubation period of COVID-19 is 14 days).
- Later, electronic surveillance, like checking mobile phone GPS and CCTV camera history is conducted. Electronic surveillance is also used to ensure “the primary radius of 3 km is sealed round the clock with a drone monitoring system to ensure no one steps out from their home at all”.
- The isolation stage consists of extensive contact tracing, screening of people in the containment zone, and testing of all suspected cases and high-risk contacts.
- The teams travel door to door in the earmarked area and “urge those with symptoms such as cough, fever and breathing difficulty to get themselves tested and stay in home quarantined, besides sensitising them to stay alert and look for symptoms and report if any”.
- Once a cluster has been identified, the authorities begin to expand laboratory testing capacity and making arrangements to ensure there are enough hospital beds to cater to any surge in cases and quarantine facilities for suspected patients.
- For expansive identification, 1,248 teams were deployed for door-to-door screening in Agra. Each team had two workers, including an auxiliary nurse-midwife/ASHA/anganwadi worker, and they altogether reached out to 9.3 lakh people.
- With private participation, some hotels were repurposed as paid quarantine centres.
- Apart from all this, the district administration launched a citizen self-registry platform linked to the Agra smart city website. This platforms allows citizens to assess their risk of infection while also providing helpline numbers. Patients assessed as facing medium and high risk are subsequently contacted by the district administration.
Use of technology –
The Agra district administration also simultaneously worked on other fronts, such as ensuring distribution chain management and movement of essential commodities within and outside the city, along with providing food and shelter for the homeless and needy through a helpline that also arranged food for animals.
Source – The Print
QUESTION – Elaborately discuss the ‘Agra model’ of containment for the COVID19 pandemic.