The Union Health Ministry has asked all states and Union Territories to utilize the extended lockdown period “to convert the hotspots (red) to orange and in turn green zones” to the maximum extent. The new instructions were conveyed to all chief secretaries of States and Union Territories by Preeti Sudan, Secretary, Department of Health and Family Welfare, vide a Demi Official letter No. Z-21020/16/2020/PH on April 15.
In her letter she has observed that more than half of all districts are currently reporting COVID-19 cases and they will all be brought under active containment strategy to break the chain of viral transmission. All the 712 districts into red zone or hotspot districts, non-hot spot districts and green districts currently not reporting any COVID case.
A red ‘hotspot’ district will be designated as orange zone if no fresh case of Covid-19 is reported there for 14 straight days and will become a green zone if no case is reported in 28 days. There are 170 hotspot districts where active lockdown and containment will be practiced by house to house surveys. No non-essential services will be allowed in these districts.
According to the latest government data, shared with all states, there are 170 ‘hotspot’ red zone districts as on date, with 123 districts faced with ‘large outbreaks’’ and 47 with clusters. Besides, there are 207 ‘non-hotspot’ orange zone districts. In orange zone districts, states need to ensure that containment measures are taken to ensure that the pandemic is contained.
In the 207 non-hotspot districts which are reporting few cases but have the potential to convert into hotspots, the Centre has asked states to start cluster containment work through active contact tracing and checking of people for pneumonia or influenza like illness. As per the communication, districts and cities will be classified as hotspot if they are among “highest case load districts contributing to more than 80% of cases in India, or highest case load districts contributing to more than 80% of cases for each state in India, or districts with doubling rate in less than four days.
Even in green districts the Centre has asked states to look for people with respiratory distress and test them. The Centre has also asked states to identify hotspots based on “doubling rate of confirmed cases” and specified that the exercise of identification of hotspots has to be done on weekly basis or earlier. The States in green zones have been asked to undertake “effective surveillance of severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) and influenza-like illness (ILI) cases” besides ensuring dedicated Covid-19 hospitals.
The communication said the period of extended national-level lockdown “should be utilised effectively and there should be concerted effort for implementing containment measures in a focused manner”.