Colour coding to help manage COVID-19 pandemic, says Health Ministry

New Delhi: The government decision to divide all districts across the country into hotspots, nonhotspots and green zones will help in managing the Covid-19 pandemic as well as partial opening up of economic activities during the extended period of the nationwide lockdown, officials said. “This would help in management of hotspots and spread of pandemic,” Lav Agarwal, joint secretary (health), said on Wednesday.

The health and family welfare ministry, which has come out with a new set of guidelines for the second phase of lockdown till May 3, has identified 170 hotspot districts, 207 non-hotspot districts reporting cases and 359 green zone districts not reporting any cases across the country as of Wednesday.

These numbers will increase or decrease based on fresh cases of novel coronavirus infection. “This is an emerging situation. The numbers can increase if the cases increase,” Agarwal said.

According to people aware of the development, the new guidelines would help the central and state governments in allowing some economic activities in select areas. There would be limited activities, such as functioning of repair shops, in the green zone districts while red zones will continue to have the current lockdown measures, they said.

The health ministry used two criteria to classify the districts as hotspots — the absolute number of cases and the speed of growth in cases. Though the ministry has been maintaining that reporting of a single case of an area makes the area a hotspot, the technical definition followed to classify the districts is any district reporting more than six cases would be classified as hotspot district or red zone.

According to this definition, Delhi and NCR would remain in the red zone. So will the most metros and big cities and towns across the country. The list includes Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune, Thane, Yavatmal, Sangli, Buldhana, Ahmednagar, and Latur in Maharashtra, and Chennai, Chengalpattu, Coimbatore, Cuddalore, Erode, Dindigul, Karur, Madurai, Namakkal, Ranipet, Tiruchirapalli, Tiruppur and Theni in Tamil Nadu. “Any hotspot district with more than 15 cases would be treated as a district witnessing outbreak,” Agarwal said. “In such a scenario outbreak containment measures will be in place.”

As per this, a house with positive cases or a cluster with positive cases is marked as the epicentre of the containment zone. A radius of 0.5 km is taken and the area around it is cordoned off with only essential services available. Also, a buffer zone is marked where people with severe and acute respiratory illnesses (SARI) are checked and monitored.

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