Chandigarh’s porous borders act as a serious challenge in managing the spread of infection in the city. Now, as cases come forward from new and scattered areas, open borders can prove risky for the city.
People commute to and from the UT every day from neighbouring states. Even PGIMER sees a major rush from all over northern India.
Even though UT Administrator VP Singh Badnore has been pressing for a common strategy for the Tricity to control the inflow of people from other states outside from the very beginning, nothing came to be done. Experts suggest that the UT could have devised a strategy to deter people from moving around unnecessarily.
“Even if city does thermal screening at the borders, it acts as a deterrent for people who move about unnecessarily because one feels that they will have to go through a traffic jam. Something could have been done on these lines to prevent this unnecessary movement. We should not be lax at all. We just have to devise ways which discourage people from roaming around,” said Dr Uttam Thakur, President of Association of Resident Doctors.
“Chandigarh is a planned city with best infrastructure, technology, and minds. They could have studied concepts abroad as to how these areas controlled their borders and whatever was feasible here could have been implemented. Chandigarh could have set an example which even the Centre could have learnt from,” he added.
PGI Professor from Department of community medicine and School of Public Health, Dr Sonu Goel said that keeping in regular touch with people coming into the city by air or by road is also important.
“Home quarantine or frequent medical screening of those coming to Chandigarh from different cities is also important, especially when borders have opened. Just the screening at airport is not sufficient as one can develop symptoms later. It is important to keep a data base of all those returning from different cities, who the health department can get in touch with, can also help. Also, a helpline can be given where people can inform if anyone in their neighbourhood has come from another city,” he added.
A meeting to develop a common strategy with Punjab and Haryana will take place on Friday with representatives from both the governments, something which could have been done before things re-opened.
TOURIST PLACES AND OTHER AREAS OPEN
Another challenge that the UT is facing is the opening of tourist places like Sukhna Lake, Rose garden and other places. People from neighbouring areas come to the lake where social distancing norms are not followed. Many people can be seen sitting together in groups with no masks.
“In my view, these places are for leisure activities which the administration could have refrained from opening just now. They don’t impact anyone’s economic activity. Then why have we shut down the cinemas? We could have opened the cinemas as well,” said a senior administrative officer from the Haryana government.
“We could have devised ways to deter people who come to sit in groups because that can be risky in days to come. A three-level screening including mandatorily having the Aarogya setu app could have put in place. Also, the way some malls developed the concept of a software where an alert is sounded if social distancing is not being followed at a particular place, should be encouraged. Nowadays some CCTV cameras have this feature. It should be used by the police during peak hours when they expect huge rush at these tourist places,” he added. The officer said that the concept of thermal imaging cameras should also have been used at entry points.
SLUMS ANOTHER CHALLENGE
Slums and colonies pose another big challenge for the UT especially when areas like the Bapu dham colony have seen major outbreaks. The cases are now spreading to areas of Daria and Manimajra where controlling infection can be difficult as many people stay in one room houses.
“Regular IEC activities in slums along with proper house to house screening in these belts can work. At the same time, even shopkeepers in the area can be screened as they interact with a number of people every day. Just the area SDMs or teams at the sector level need to develop a comprehensive plan on this,” said a public health expert, on the condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, the UT administration confirmed that they will not follow the Punjab government in viewing the lockdown on weekends.
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