Expecting the Covid-19 outbreak numbers in Panchkula to further decline, the district health department, which is on an average reporting less than 70 cases per day for more than a week now, is setting high hopes on getting the number down to less than 30 per day by the end of October.
As per a district health official, Panchkula- which had been reporting an average case load of more than 200 cases per day in the mid weeks of September- has slowly witnessed a reduction in numbers owing to the district’s robust health surveillance scheme which was launched early September.
The launch of a systematic sampling plan early September, in an attempt to survey at least 50 per cent of the urban population and 100 per cent of its rural population through surveillance led by ASHA workers have been pegged as the prime reason for the district reporting less Covid-19 positive cases.
The strategy had focussed on surveying residents of the entire district in a door-to-door assessment where more than 320 of the district’s ASHA workers surveyed each house and each person of the area, especially the vulnerable groups, for even mild symptoms including a cough or fever.
All such persons with symptoms were motivated to get themselves sampled at nearby dispensaries which remained functional each day of the week. The district administration had also converted all its dispensaries and hospitals into sampling centres in the last week of August, to motivate people to get themselves tested while also making sampling easy and accessible to all. The district now has as many as 21 government facilitated and two private sampling centres.
The dip in Covid-19 positive cases in the last week of September had been largely attributed to reduced sampling numbers in the district. The numbers had reduced owing to lower turn out of people at sampling centres.
However, as the Panchkula health administration ramped up sampling in the first week of October—charting out plans to reach group housing societies to conduct random tests—the number of positive cases further kept on decreasing and continued on the same trajectory.
The doctors of the district, now expect the cases to further decrease to a much smaller number. “We are confident of the surveillance strategy we have used to sniff out all our positive cases. We are also hopeful that the numbers will go further down to 20s by the last week of October. The masking up of people will remain crucial throughout to constitute towards a decrease in numbers,” said Deputy Civil Surgeon of Panchkula, Dr Saroj Aggarwal.
129 health workers affected
As per details given out by the district administration, a total of 129 healthcare workers associated not only with the Panchkula health department but also those working at UT hospitals but residing in Panchkula have yet contracted the virus.
Of these, atleast 74 are doctors posted at Panchkula civil hospital, private hospitals including Alchemist, Paras, Fortis and at PGI & GMCH-32.
Atleast four ASHA workers of Panchkula, 15 nursing staff, radiology technicians among other departmental members of Paras hospital, staff at PGI and doctors working at Panchkula DMER also figure their name on the list.
While all the healthcare, says a senior Panchkula health official, may not have been infected directly due to their covid duties, the name have to be added to the list as ‘protocol’.
“All of these healthcare workers have their own lives outside of the hospital. As the world has opened up, they too must be going outside, visiting family and people. Not all of them serve in covid wards or even have any direct interaction or duties with positive cases. One such example would be the marketing staff of a private hospital which tested positive recently. No doubt there is a possibility that they got exposed at the hospital, but there is also a high possibility that they did not,” the doctor stated.
Meanwhile, as per a developed protocol by the MOHFW (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare), a Hospital Infection Control Committee has been in effect throughout the pandemic which traces the steps of any healthcare worker which tests positive to limit the spread.
While all healthcare workers, which amount in 1000s, cannot be tested or quarantined on a regular basis, they are being sampled if and when they require or show even minor symptoms.
High risk groups of doctors have been identified and are either placed away from direct covid patient care or are tested consistently as and when required.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines