Nearly one in five districts in India is a hotspot, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday, a day that saw at least 1,036 COVID-19 infections.
The government said it had classified every district into a hotspot, potential hotspot or a green zone. Of India’s 736 districts, 170 were ‘hotspots’, defined as places with at least 15 confirmed infections or where there was an exponential rise in cases. There were 207 ‘potential hotspots,’ Lav Agrawal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, said at the daily media briefing.
There were 11,439 confirmed cases and 377 deaths. A total of 1,306 people have been been discharged after recovery.
Details of these districts were not shared but in all of these places — potential or not — testing would be ramped up to include checking even those who displayed ‘influenza-like illnesses’ and breathlessness.
According to reports from the State Health Departments, the total number of cases rose to 12,380, of which 10,568 were active ones. While 422 people have died of the disease, 1,392 have recovered.
Special teams had been set up to trace all contacts and to conduct house-to-house surveys. These teams will include health staff, local revenue staff, corporation staff, Red Cross and volunteer groups who have undergone an online training course, Mr. Agrawal added.
He said District Magistrates had the authority to declare regions as hotspots, and a protocol would be in place to check how a district was performing in containing the spread of the virus.
“In order to break the chain of transmission, focus needs to be on contact tracing, monitoring and clinical management. States have been asked to uniformly implement the containment plan in every district across the country,” an accompanying press statement added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while announcing extension of lockdown on Tuesday, said all districts would have to strictly enforce quarantining until April 20, after which based on the ‘performance’ of districts in keeping the case count low or halting a rapid rise in infections, restrictions would begin to be eased. Were these regions to regress, restrictions would be reimposed.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan participated in a meeting with officials of the World Health Organisation to take stock of preparedness.
Praising India’s response to COVID-19, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region, Poonam Khetrapal Singh, said, “Despite huge and multiple challenges, India has been demonstrating unwavering commitment in its fight against the pandemic”.
The WHO Representative to India, Henk Bekedam, said, “Our field personnel have been redirected to support the fight against COVID-19. The same team worked tirelessly along with the government and other partner organisations to help India become polio-free. I am confident that the WHO team can once again join hands with the government to help win this fight against COVID-19.”
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