Coronavirus Outbreak: Testing, containment and specificity form key pillars of Delhi government's 5T plan to tackle COVID-19

The Delhi government has ordered more than 50,000 testing kits and selected over 1,000 for random testing from the 20 sealed-off areas, which is on the lines of the South Korea model, the most effective method across the world at fighting the pandemic thus far.

Sayantan Ghosh April 10, 2020 10:48:10 IST
Coronavirus Outbreak: Testing, containment and specificity form key pillars of Delhi government's 5T plan to tackle COVID-19

It is an extraordinary time. The number of coronavirus patients are increasing despite stringent lockdowns in the UK and Italy and a 21-day lockdown across India, which has still not entered stage 3 of the pandemic (community spreading).

From Kerala to Rajasthan, a number of models have been developed to tackle this pandemic. Let's examine the Delhi government’s 5T plan, announced by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday, to tackle COVID-19 : The 5Ts stand for Testing, Tracing, Treatment, Teamwork and Tracking.

The Delhi government has also listed 20 areas which will be sealed completely. Unlike Bhilwara, these areas are not districts but hotspots which includes areas like Nizamuddin, some specific lanes, and apartments. This model will help authorities keep a check easily and also will not hamper the other parts of the city. Specificity is key to this model.

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Testing and South Korea model:

 <span class=Coronavirus Outbreak Testing containment and specificity form key pillars of Delhi governments 5T plan to tackle COVID19" width="380" height="285" />

File image of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. PTI

Testing is considered key in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. The more testing is done, the more cases can be identified and the more people can be treated or quarantined.

The Delhi government has ordered more than 50,000 testing kits and selected over 1,000 for random testing from the 20 sealed-off areas, which is on the lines of the South Korea model, the most effective method across the world at fighting the pandemic thus far.

Over the past few months, South Korea has tested far more than any other country. According to this New York Times piece entitled “How South Korea Flattened the Curve”, the country has conducted over 300,000 tests; that's a  per capita rate of more than 40 times the United States.

“Testing is central because that leads to early detection, it minimises further spread and it quickly treats those found with the virus,” Kang Kyung-Wha, South Korea’s foreign minister, told the BBC, calling the tests “the key behind our very low fatality rate as well.”

Countries like the US have lagged behind in testing. According to recent reports, by mid-March the US had conducted only around 125 tests per million of  its population compared to 5,567 tests per million people in South Korea.

The Delhi government has, until 8 April, conducted over 9,300 tests and plans to scale up to as many as 60,000 soon.

The Dilshad Garden Model

The Rajasthan government turned Bhilwara district into a containment zone. But such large-scale isolation of districts is tough to pull off in Delhi or other metros.

The Delhi government made Dilshad Garden a containment zone after a 38-year-old woman who returned from Saudi Arabia tested positive for coronavirus and infected eight others, including a mohalla clinic doctor.

The Delhi government traced all the people who had contact with the woman and quarantined them. The Delhi government took the help of CCTV cameras to trace her son's movements and all the places and people he visited. A Rapid Action Plan was formulated and the curfew imposed in the area (Dilshad Garden and Old Seemapuri).

The Delhi government formed 123 medical teams, each team surveyed around 50 homes and asked a set of question. Any person who met the family was quarantined or shifted to GTB Hospital for medical treatment and testing.

The Delhi government screened nearly 4,032 houses and nearly 15,000 people in the area. Along with this, an action plan was prepared with the help of the District Magistrate of Shahadra. The whole area was sealed along with the Old Seelampur after a Mohalla clinic doctor tested positive.

The AAP-led Delhi government has made the development of preventive healthcare a priority. A good example of this is the reduction in dengue cases by more than 80 percent.

The AAP government allotted 15 percent of the total budget to the health sector. The idea of the Mohalla Clinic worked well on the ground. The Delhi government ensured  all the basic diagnostic tests at  Mohalla Clinics free of cost.

As per a report in Hindustan Times, “Healthcare received the second-highest allocation in the 2020-21 budget, with a special allocation of ₹50 crore for providing adequate quarantine facilities to fight COVID-19 . A special provision of ₹3 crore was made in the revised budget for the current year towards measures to contain COVID-19 .”

The AAP government has expanded the scope of its own social welfare schemes by extended them to private healthcare establishments. There are a number of health schemes in which the private hospitals are associated, for example the Farishtey Scheme where if any person meets with a road accident in Delhi and is taken to any private or government hospital then the Delhi government bears the cost of the treatment.

There are also schemes under Delhi Arogya Kosh (DAK) where private health sector plays an important role.

The author is a Delhi-based policy research fellow and a freelance journalist who writes on issues of governance and politics.The author can be reached at @sayantan_gh

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