Yellow, amber, orange, red: Coloured action plan for Delhi’s Covid-19 response
An expert committee set up by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to guide the state government’s Covid-19 preparations is drafting a colour-coded action plan aimed to help the government put in place a string of measures, ranging from lockdown-like curbs to reserving hospital beds, to tackling an outbreak, a senior government official said on Friday.
The committee has decided on four colour-coded alerts in increasing order of severity — yellow, amber, orange, and red. The alerts are similar to the plan the state puts in place as it tackles air pollution in the city in the winter, said the official.
Under the Graded Response Action Plan, air quality scale is divided into several levels — moderate, poor, very poor, severe, and severe-plus or emergency. When the city’s air quality reaches a particular level, government and air quality monitoring and enforcement agencies are dictated to follow a list of dos and don’ts that need to be implemented.
“Every alert will come with its own set of preventive and mitigatory measures,” said the official.
“The aim is to avoid unnecessary delays. It is expected to give a better and more uniform sense of what nature and scale of restrictions are required to be implemented at what stage as new cases and other parameters such as positivity rate witness spike.”
The eight-member expert committee, comprising doctors, heads of hospitals, and bureaucrats, is in the final stages of drafting the graded action plan. On May 27, Kejriwal set up the preparation committee along with another 13-member committee, which is focused on the medical and technical aspects of Covid-19 preparation, including medical oxygen, drugs, paediatrics, and so on. The eight-member committee has been tasked with drawing up guidelines on the announcement of a lockdown and the degrees of curbs that various Covid-19 scenario require, the number of tests that should be conducted in a day, containment policy, contact tracing targets, the reservation of hospital beds, and other such issues.
“The committee is expected to prepare multiple action plans based on various combinations of factors such as new cases, test positivity rate, deaths, case fatality rate and active cases on a stage-by-stage basis,” said the senior government official.
A colour-coded alert will be issued if a host of Covid-19 metrics meet a preset target, said the official. For instance, a particular alert will be issued — as part of the state’s daily health bulletin — if the test positivity rate remains a certain number for a fixed number of days, and the number of new cases cross a certain benchmark, on a certain number of occasions in that period.
“The plan should be prepared in such a manner that each stage of the plan can be activated within a short time,” the official added.
Dr Jugal Kishore, head of the community medicines department in Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital, said, “Such a strategy can be very useful in sending the right message to the masses. Currently, the government shares only numbers. Numbers that appear as a threat to me can seem relatively safe to another person. A colour-coded system can help bring in more objectivity and people can better assess what level of precautions to take at what stage. A graded action plan will also ensure better allocation of resources, protect the contact tracing and home isolation models and make triage easy for the surveillance teams.”
Triage is the process of determining the priority of patients’ treatments by the severity of their condition or likelihood of recovery with and without treatment.
Delhi witnessed its fourth and worst Covid-19 surge in April and May. At its peak, the city recorded more than 28,300 cases in a day on April 20 and a positivity rate higher than 30% in mid-April. A severe shortage of medical oxygen in the city during the wave – which also witnessed hospitals running out of beds, ICUs, ventilators and life-saving drugs – further contributed to the high number of deaths.
On Friday, Delhi recorded 93 new cases and a positivity rate of 0.13%, the government’s health bulletin said.