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Containment zones in Guwahati

Containment zones have returned to Guwahati as COVID-19 pandemic cases are spiralling at an alarming rate.

Containment zones

Sentinel Digital Desk

Containment zones have returned to Guwahati as COVID-19 pandemic cases are spiralling at an alarming rate. The aim is to prevent the spread of infection from localities in notified municipal wards ensuring that no resident of such zone moves out or no one from outside, barring those exempted, moves in. The challenge, however, is to contain the spread of infection within the containment zone. Only responsible behaviour of the residents in containment zones will ensure that there is no spread of infection in their localities. The administration will allow residents of these zones to purchase essential commodities from 8 am to 12 noon during the containment period. The shopkeepers, as well as residents, must shoulder the responsibility to ensure that there would be no panic buying, and everyone wears facemask properly and maintain physical distance. Wearing double masks to ensure double protection will help faster containment of the spread of infection. The Kamrup (Metropolitan) Administration has fixed a benchmark of 400 positive cases over the past week to notify the award or locality as a containment zone. Containment zones are no recreation zone. The residents must stay inside their houses except for buying groceries during the three hours of shopping or purchasing medicines. Residents of several localities in the city during the lockdown in the first wave last year and also during the night curfew hours during the current second wave are seen coming out of their houses for walking in groups. Such irresponsible behaviour defeats the purpose of imposition of night curfew to break the chain. Patrolling by police during night curfew hours can check such violation but conscious citizens of the neighbourhood should take the lead to make residents understand that the restrictions have been imposed to ensure that active caseloads do not rise and trigger a crisis. The district administration has identified several other localities where several cases are inching towards the benchmark of 400 cases and made public the identified localities. It depends on the wisdom of the residents of these areas to impose self-restrictions on their movements and strict adherence to COVID appropriate behaviour so that there is no increase in containment zones in the city. An increase in the number of containment zones will only mount pressure on the hospitals, government as well as private, for bed and oxygen triggering a crisis. The Health department releasing the bed occupancy position daily will help city residents realise the gravity of the situation and take adequate precaution. Households within a containment zone have COVID-19 patients in home isolation should take extra care while neighbouring households offering a helping hand by taking the required precautions, help them procure groceries, medicines or any other assistance will lessen their anxieties. Testing centres within the containment zones will help quick isolation of infected residents and timely care and precaution by other family members. Health experts across the country have observed that due to the high transmissibility of the new mutant of the COVID-19 virus almost all the members of the family have been infected. Strictly following the advice of health experts to wear masks at home if anyone in the family has been tested COVID positive and is under home isolation is critical to prevent the spread of infection in containment zones as well as the areas outside. Indian Council of Medical Research has issued a new guideline of COVID-19 testing as spiralling cases have pushed the testing laboratories to the brink. The ICMR has directed that an RT-PCR test must not be done on an individual who has been tested positive by Rapid Antigen Teat or RT-PCR test once. It also directed that no testing will be required for COVID recovered patients at the time of their discharge. ICMR authorities and other health experts may be required to explain the new guideline to patients and family members how they are going to confirm that the infection has gone without testing. Or else they may be gripped by anxieties over the question if a test report is not required now why they had to wait for a negative RTPCR test report previously before discharging the patients. The new ICMR guideline also stated that the need for RT-PCR test in asymptomatic individuals undertaking inter-state domestic travel may be completely removed to reduce the load on laboratories. Given this new guideline, the Assam government will be required to revisit its Standard Operating Procedures which require all passengers arriving at airports and railway stations, inter-state boundary check gates to undergo mandatory paid RTPCR tests if the RAT test report comes negative. The laboratories getting overburdened due to the high overall positivity rate in the country above 20 per cent is an alarm bell of an impending health crisis. All stakeholders should ensure that the objectives of containment zones are achieved.

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