March 26, 2020 2:17:07 am
Inside his office at the state secretariat, Rohit Kumar Singh flips through a folder of paper sheets listing 43 points to tackle the coronavirus outbreak in Rajasthan.
From airport screening to isolation monitoring, home surveillance to quarantine facilities, coordination with districts to inter-department liaison — the folder is a lifeline for Singh, who is additional chief secretary in the state’s health department, in the rush to contain the virus.
“There are two aspects, prevention and response, after finding a positive case. Where we score better than others is the prevention part… we have trained 75,000 health workers and nursing staff from all districts through video conferencing. They have covered more than 23 lakh homes till now,” he says.
The health department is also using an app — currently in Jhunjhunu and Bhilwara districts from where positive cases were reported — to track those quarantined at home. “They are able to enter their vitals daily on the app, which is helping the department keep a tab on their condition,” says Singh.
Of the 38 cases recorded in the state so far, the first three were discharged after treatment, although one of them, an Italian tourist who was administered a combination of second-line anti-HIV medication, died later following a cardiac arrest.
By the time the fourth case was reported — a 24-year-old man who landed in Jaipur from Spain via Delhi on March 13 — Singh says the state’s preventive mechanism was fully in place.
“Our first reaction was to contact airport officials to get the passenger list of the flight in which he had travelled to Jaipur. We also alerted the airline and officials at the Delhi airport. We marked those who sat on both sides of the patient, upto three seats away, as high-risk individuals,” he says.
What followed was “a massive operation” by the department, tracking down those who came in contact with the patient, and screening hundreds of people near his home in a bustling neighbourhood in Jaipur.
Within the next 24 hours, a team of doctors, health workers and nursing students had screened almost all the houses located within 3 km of the patient’s residence.
“We started screening houses on the night of March 13 itself, and came to know that there were two maids and a caretaker in his house. Following that, we started collecting information on the other houses where these people went, and their families. It was revealed that the patient had come in close contact with 12 people. All of them were quarantined at home,” says Dr Narottam Sharma, chief medical and health officer of Jaipur.
According to Dr Ravi Prakash Sharma, additional director, rural health, more than 30 lakh people have been screened so far across the state.
While the infected cases are being treated at the Sawai Man Singh Hospital in Jaipur, an isolation ward has been created at the Rajasthan University of Health Sciences for those under observation. For each positive case, the health directorate has prepared a flow chart and a dossier for contact-tracing.
At present, there are six facilities in the state — mostly in divisional headquarters — which can conduct tests.
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