Bhilwara’s ‘ruthless containment’ model | HT Editorial

Updated on Apr 08, 2020 01:24 AM IST
The Rajasthan district shows a way out — lockdown, screen, test, isolate, treat
Police officials urge people to stay at home, Bhilwara, March 22, 2020(PTI)
Police officials urge people to stay at home, Bhilwara, March 22, 2020(PTI)
Hindustan Tiimes | ByHindustan Times

Bhilwara emerged as one of India’s early coronavirus disease (Covid-19) hotspots. With the infection spreading from a hospital, 27 people tested positive. But, for the past week, the Rajasthan district has not reported a positive case. To be sure, cases could emerge again. But this turnaround is a remarkable story, and is now being considered as a possible model to be replicated elsewhere in the country.

The Rajasthan government focused on a comprehensive approach. The first step was locking down the district on March 20, five days before the national lockdown was announced. This eventually extended into a strict curfew, where even essentials were delivered to homes. The next step was the identification of sensitive areas and aggressive screening of those with travel history, contact with those who had travelled, and vulnerable groups such as health workers. Those with symptoms were tested; and they – and their close contacts – were isolated and quarantined in both public and private facilities. There was then a focus on offering treatment to the positive cases. This has now been followed up with careful monitoring.

There is an underlying logic to this entire process. Ensure no movement, which prevents others from coming in and spreading the infection further, and possible positive cases from moving out and infecting others. Once the disease is contained to a specific cluster, check who may have infection. Keep such cases away from others, to prevent them from spreading it. Eventually, the lack of mobility – and the lack of contact with positive cases – will diminish the rate of infections. There are three clear lessons from this model. Go local — and as deep as possible within specific geographies. Ensure deployment of adequate human resources to screen and test and ramp up of health infrastructure to isolate. And limit movement for as long as possible. Scaling this up nationally, especially if there is a surge, is difficult. But administrators across the country should adopt this model to their specific circumstances.

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