Over two months after a similar initiative lost steam midway, the capital’s second shot at screening its entire population to map the spread of Covid-19 started Thursday. Armed with a mobile app and notebooks, two-member teams of ASHA (accredited social health activist) workers and ANMs (auxiliary nurse midwife) fanned out across many parts of the city.
While the screening process, which has a deadline of July 6, has begun in sub-divisions under the Central district — home to several densely populated neighbourhoods — in districts such as South and West, the teams are likely to be deployed over the next two days. Around 9 am on Thursday, teams led by SDM (Civil Lines) Pradeep Tayal hit the narrow bylanes of old Chandrawal area, where a slum cluster is located, and went around collating as much data as they could till around 4 pm.
“We launched the screening on Wednesday by covering Aruna Nagar near Majnu ka Tilla. On Thursday, we tried to cover old Chandrawal, which has a population of around 2,500 people,” Tayal told The Indian Express. In other districts, apart from ASHA workers and ANMs, even MCD staffers have been roped in for the task.
At old Chandrawal, the team carried out a door-to-door survey while also interacting with clusters of people at corner shops. The data collated through the day was shared with local medical officers, who would, based on their assessment, identify names that require immediate testing.
The teams are being deployed at the poll booth level in each sub-division, SDM (Saket) Rakesh Kumar said. The teams to be fielded in the South district underwent training on Thursday, SDM (Hauz Khas) Kapil Chaudhary said.
Apart from basic details such as name, age, address and contact, the workers are feeding the mobile app with information such as the travel of every individual being screened; whether or not they use the Aarogya Setu app; symptoms of flu; medical conditions among other things. The same app was being used in carrying out screening at the containment zones.
On April 13, Chief Secretary Vijay Dev had constituted “Corona foot warriors Containment and Surveillance Teams”, which also had the mandate to screen Delhi’s entire population, alert authorities about suspected corona cases, transport patients to medical facilities and enforce social distancing.
The teams, which were also tasked with checking on every resident aged 60 or above and “red-flagging” those with serious medical conditions, were to have BLOs, one civil defence volunteer, ASHA/anganwadi worker, MCD sanitation worker and a Delhi Police beat constable.
“Many of these were created, however, they did not make much headway due to lack of seriousness. Also, many workers contracted the virus and had to isolate themselves. Many SDMs also turned corona positive. Now that screening of the entire city has been made part of the Covid response plan, the sense of urgency is more. We are treating it like a Census, albeit with a different set of questions and objectives. Apart from feeding the app with requisite data, workers are being trained to ask indirect questions to try and assess the situation better,” said a senior official.
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