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Now past Mumbai too at Covid top, Delhi to survey all houses, ramp up testing

The revised Covid response plan, which places emphasis on active surveillance followed by rigorous testing, was formulated after a high-level panel, led by NITI Aayog member Dr V K Paul, suggested a series of measures to tackle the virus spread.

Written by Astha Saxena | New Delhi | Updated: June 25, 2020 12:14:57 pm
delhi coronavirus cases, delhi covid count, mumbai coronavirus, delhi covid cases, delhi recovery rate Patients being brought to the LNJP hospital New Delhi on Wednesday. Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal

WITH 3,788 new Covid-19 cases being reported on Tuesday, Delhi has overtaken Mumbai as the city with the highest case count — 70,390 cases so far. The total case count in Mumbai, which reported 1,118 new cases in the last 24 hours, is 69,528.

While Delhi has done 4.2 lakh tests so far (about 22,142 per million), Mumbai 2.94 lakh tests (22,668 per million). Mumbai’s positivity rate (23.2%) remains higher than Delhi (16.7%); Delhi also has fewer deaths (2,365) than Mumbai (3,964).

With the number of cases still rising, the Delhi government has prepared an ambitious plan —house-to-house screening in containment zones by June 30, and in the rest of the city by July 6.

The revised Covid response plan, which places emphasis on active surveillance followed by rigorous testing, was formulated after a high-level panel, led by NITI Aayog member Dr V K Paul, suggested a series of measures to tackle the virus spread. In a meeting with the chief secretary, district magistrates were asked to form teams by Friday, which must have a healthcare worker to assess a person’s medical condition.

“Now, all households in the city will be surveyed by field workers. Till now, we were carrying out surveillance in containment zones and areas where positivity rate was high. Under the revised plan, anyone found with symptoms will be tested,” said a senior district official.

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A task force comprising representatives of Delhi Police, MCD, district surveillance officials, IT professionals for Aarogya Setu, members from medical colleges and the department of education and youth has to be set up by each district surveillance unit. The revised strategy also suggests redefining containment zones, which currently stand at 266.

“A 100% household survey has to be carried out by July 6 and all districts have been told to ramp up work accordingly. The team has to visit each home and note down the health profile of residents. Data has to be uploaded on a portal and if anyone is found to be symptomatic, he or she needs to be tested through antigen testing,” said another district official.

The city has been following two strategies for testing — RT-PCR, considered the gold standard for testing, and rapid antigen testing, which is faster. A third strategy, of antibody testing, is soon going to be followed through ‘sero-surveillance’ of 20,000 people.
Top health department officials, along with a team of NCDC, are preparing a roadmap for Delhi to carry out sero-surveillance in all 11 districts. This involves collecting blood samples to determine if a person is or was infected with coronavirus.

Sources said a certain share of the population from each district will be randomly tested. “It will be a mix of all age groups, even those below 18. This will help identify the spread of the virus and the number of people who have developed immunity,” said a senior health official.

NCDC will provide training to district officials on Thursday on how to identify areas for sero-surveillance.

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