How Covid control room helps people cope with the pandemic
Set up by the Gautam Budh Nagar administration and district police with support from tech giant HCL Technologies on April 4, the ‘all-in-one’ integrated control room has till date received more than 2.53 lakh calls on its toll-free number – 1800-419-2211.Updated: Aug 15, 2020 11:33 IST
The 30 telephone lines set up at the Covid-19 integrated control room (ICR) in Noida’s Sector 59 keep buzzing with pandemic-related queries. A man who has just landed from Dubai wants to know the results of his mother’s second Covid-19 test, a mother-daughter duo who tested positive for the infection are enquiring about when an ambulance will come to pick them up, while another resident wants to know how to quarantine himself till his test results arrive. It is a regular Thursday afternoon, but the staff at the control room find themselves inundated with queries.
Set up by the Gautam Budh Nagar administration and district police with support from tech giant HCL Technologies on April 4, the ‘all-in-one’ integrated control room has till date received more than 2.53 lakh calls on its toll-free number – 1800-419-2211.
According to its staff, the control rooms gets at least 350 calls daily on average which is still far less than the average 1,000 daily call it used to get during the lockdown.
District surveillance officer (DSO), Dr Manoj Kumar Kushwaha, said the number of phone calls at the control room have reduced ever since the central government rolled back the restrictions imposed during the lockdown. “Earlier, the control room would receive many calls from people inquiring about food and shelter, about people wanting to go to their hometowns apart from residents calling to complain about people coming from districts but not quarantining themselves. But, now we mostly get Covid-19 test-related queries, people testing positive and requiring ambulances to go to the hospital and people with symptoms who want to know where they get themselves tested,” he said.
The telephone lines at the control room are manned by 27 personnel from different departments who then forward the calls depending on the kind of query to one of seven different units established in the control room. The seven units—home isolation, containment zone, sampling and surveillance, facility allocation and self-declaration, contact tracing, rapid response, and ambulance and sanitization-engage a total of 175 officials and workers.
District magistrate Suhas LY said in the home isolation unit, which gets the maximum number of calls these days, has a strength of over 40 staffers, including the chief development officer (CDO), sub-divisional magistrate (SDM), district panchayat raj officer (DPRO) —who are administrative in-charges, additional chief medical officer (ACMO) —the medical in-charge, nine doctors, a data manager, and 26 phone operators. “When this team gets information about the patients testing positive for Covid-19, it gets in touch with the asymptomatic patients and asks them to report immediately to L-1 facilities (for mild-care). The patients are then evaluated by a team of doctors if they are fit enough to be isolated at home. We ask the patients to then download the UP Covid-19 surveillance mobile application so that they can be monitored at home,” he said.
The DM further said at the time of patients’ transfer from the hospital to their home, an online form is filled which includes all their personal details and health vitals. “Also, an undertaking is signed by the patient, and a home fitness certificate is issued by the doctor. Patients are also given the ‘Covid kavach (shield) kit’ and their details are immediately transferred virtually to the control room for further monitoring and coordination,” he said.
Chief medical officer Dr Deepak Ohri said a detailed online and offline database of all the patients is maintained and a team of doctors, paramedics and teachers monitor these patients round the clock. “We track their progress through the UP Covid-19 app and the control room also keeps a close tab on then the patients asking about their oxygen levels, temperature and any other complaints they have,” he said.
Patients, who need to be treated at a Covid-19 facility, are looked after by the facility allocation team. “We contact the Covid-19 patients to trace their location. The list of patients who are not present in any facility and need treatment are given to the rapid response team for shifting of those patients to a facility. The database of all traced patients’ locations is updated on our portal,” said Dr Kushwaha.
The containment zone cell, run by four people- a nodal officer, a doctor, and two support staff, maintains the database of the addresses of all Covid-19 patients in the district. “After sorting the database, sealing suggestions with every patient’s address long with de-sealing dates are given to all SDMs/magistrates concerned. All SDMs send the conformation lists after sealing the given addresses which are added to the district containment zone list. Daily de-sealing list is prepared and given to all SDMs and the same addresses are removed from the district containment zone list,” the doctor working for the team, who preferred anonymity, said.
The staff at the control room which runs its 24 hours (in two shifts) throughout the week diligently maintains two registers as well—one for noting down calls with medical requests, reports of symptoms and requests for ambulances, while the other for complaints including containment zones, people flouting quarantine norms within containment zones, “Every call is noted down with the caller’s complete details so that no patient goes missing from our database in the future,” said one of the staffers.
HCL’s technical team, which provides support to the control room personnel, works remotely from home.
A team of police officers is also deployed at the control room to keep a close watch on law and order issues. Commissioner of police (CP) Alok Singh said that at the beginning of the lockdown, the control room was instrumental in monitoring those suffering from respiratory issues and fever and then became important for coordinating and monitoring the health of migrants arriving in the district. “The control room was involved in collecting feedback on issues such as rations, food distribution, and quarantine facilities. The police commissionerate itself has provided ration and food packets to more than two lakh families so far. The helpline registers all Covid-related calls separately and operators also call residents back to check if their queries and complaints have been resolved within 24 hours or not,” Singh said.
“The technical support unit (TSU) has also created a portal to integrate data from surveillance officers, labs and medical facilities which played a crucial role in analysing data and contact-tracing of Covid-positive patients’ Singh said, adding it was the database prepared by the control room which helped in ensuring the safe return of students and migrant workers to their hometowns a few months ago.
It was police commissioner Singh who had first discussed the idea of setting up the control room with the principal secretary for medical education, Rajnish Dubey, just before the chief minister’s visit in March, and after getting the nod from the state government, the district police and administration approached HCL for providing infrastructural support for the control room. “I am thankful to the Nadar family (founders of HCL), especially Roshni Nadar (chairperson of HCL Technologies), who agreed to give all support to us in no time. The ultra-modern control room was finally set up April 4 for the purpose of resolving all problems related to the coronavirus pandemic under the same roof one platform,” he said.