The Satara district administration has come up with a novel plan to carry out the process of contact tracing of coronavirus patients. It has started creating flowcharts to illustrate their movements in the days before their diagnosis.
Initially unaffected by the infection, Satara district has seen the number if cases climb to 79, and two deaths.
“We have noticed that usually, patients approach the government health facility only when their symptoms get severe. Often, they are not completely honest about their movements and social contacts in the days before the diagnosis…. this has prompted us to adopt a different way to trace the contacts of patients,” said Additional Collector of Satara, Ramchandra Shinde.
The administration has sought the help of the cyber crime unit to verify the movement of patients in the days before diagnosis and hospitalisation. “The cyber crime unit has confirmed that some patients are not upfront about their movements in the days before they get hospitalised,” said Shinde.
Now, with the information received from police, usually by tracing the cell phone locations of the patients, the administration is preparing a flowchart of their movement, with details of the various locations they visited, the time and date. “This flowchart will be made public, with an appeal to local residents to approach the civic hospital for a medical check-up if they were in the same area at the same time as the patient. It is possible that they may have come in contact with someone infected…,” said Shinde.
The flowchart system is in accordance with government guidelines on studying travel history of the patient. “We have used it to trace contacts instead,” said an official of the district administration.
But some local residents have concerns about this system. “The district administration is creating a panic situation by publishing time and dates of the presence of patients in a particular area. There may be so many persons in the area at the same time. Moreover, the area shown in the flowchart is not an exact location… it is the entire area covered by the nearest mobile tower,” said one of them.
Shinde admitted that while the flowchart was based on tracing the area covered by the patient’s cell phone, it was one of the best ways to confirm the location of the patient.
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