The extent of concentration of Covid cases in Delhi’s Central and North districts — home to 12 densely populated containment zones — has prompted the Centre to direct the local administration to carry out a “rapid house-to-house survey” and confidence building measures by involving community leaders.
With the Home Ministry giving states complete leeway to demarcate red zones, for the Delhi government, these two districts, along with Southeast, South and Shahdara, will be the focal points in tackling the spread of the virus.
The East and West districts and Lutyens’ zone seem to be doing better. In fact, 11 containment zones of the West district — with 376 of the city’s nearly 10,000 cases — have been unsealed in the last few weeks. The VIP zone of New Delhi district, meanwhile, has registered 472 cases so far.
But in Central and North districts, under the scanner for high doubling and fatality rates, fewer zones have been de-contained. A large share of the population under the city’s 64 containment zones is from these areas.
As per an official document, following a visit to the clusters in Central and North districts by a delegation led by Joint Secretary, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Lav Aggarwal
on May 10, the Union Home Secretary held a meeting with top officials of the Delhi administration, including the Chief Secretary and Police Commissioner.
The action points issued by the Centre include “rapid house- to-house survey in containment zones and new clusters/containment zones to locate active cases; testing and isolating them using dedicated teams. Field units shall verify that social distancing is being implemented properly. Strict isolation and better management of suspects/ symptomatic cases to be done as per various guidelines, while also ensuring rigorous contact tracing.”
It also directed that “confidence-building measures be carried out involving community/ religious leaders/ influencers along with more information, education activities to remove stigma attached with the disease”.
A look at the areas de-contained so far shows that restrictions have been lifted from 11 zones of West district; 8 of east; 4 of South; 3 of New Delhi district; 2 zones each of Southeast and Central; and 1 zone each of Shahdara, Southwest, North and Northeast districts respectively.
While areas have been de-contained rapidly, only a handful of new areas have been sealed even as cases rose. With the Centre allowing states to take a call on demarcation of red zones now, the number of containment zones is likely to rise in the next few days. The Centre’s latest guidelines come as a relief to the Delhi government, which is comfortable keeping small clusters under stringent lockdown and letting the rest of the city reopen.
Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan wrote to the states that they are at full liberty to categorise a sub-division, a ward or any other “appropriate administrative unit” as red, orange or green zones. Delhi, with its all 11 districts categorised as red, has been placing precisely this demand for a while now.
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