Covid-19: States make exit plans for green zones, containment strategies for red zones. What are they?

PM Modi, in his interaction with state CMs this week, asked all states to prepare a lockdown exit plan by categorizing the Covid-19 spread into three zones.

According to the PM, strict lockdown guidelines need to follow in the ‘Red Zones’ or containment zone in the coming days and strict vigil in ‘Orange Zones’ while states can plan for resumption of economic activity in ‘Green Zones’.

Now, the big question is how and what criteria states/UTs will adopt to decide these red zones (containment zones) where the lockdown is likely to continue post-May 3.

The number of Covid-19 hotspot districts in India has come down to 129 from 170 a fortnight ago, but in the same period, the number of infection-free districts or green zones too decreased from 325 to 307.

On April 15, MHA guidelines it was said that a hotspot i.e an area of large Covid-19 outbreaks or a cluster with a significant spread of Covid-19 will be determined as per the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare criteria.

The Health Ministry also clarified that in these hotspots, containment zones will be demarcated by the local administration, as per the guidelines of MoHFW.

As per these guidelines, there will be strict perimeter control in the area of the containment zone to ensure that there is no unchecked inward/outward movement of the population from these zones except for maintaining essential services.

WHAT IS ZONE INCLUSION-EXCLUSION CRITERIA?

# Highest caseload districts contributing to more than 80% of cases in India or

# Highest caseload districts contributing to more than 80% of cases for each state in India or

# Districts with a doubling rate less than 4 days (calculated every Monday for last 7 days to be determined by the state government) subject to the following exclusion criteria

# No new confirmed case for last 14 days (orange zone)

# No new confirmed cases for the last 28 days (Green zone)

RED ZONE

Those hotspots which require focused attention and where a large number of cases and high growth rate of infections have been reported have been termed as red zones.

The red zone will have “highest caseload districts contributing to more than 80 per cent of cases in India or highest caseload districts contributing to more contributing to more than 80 per cent of cases for each state in India or districts will doubling rate less than four days”.

As per MOHFW, hotspot districts need to ensure implementation of the outbreak containment plan, adding that states also need to identify hotspots based on the doubling rate of confirmed cases.

Very strong containment measures will be implemented in the hotspot districts. Only essential services are to be permitted in these zones and strict perimeter control and strict restrictions on movement will be enforced.

As many as 170 districts were initially identified as hotspots — 123 hotspot districts with large outbreaks and 47 hotspot districts with clusters — in 25 states and Union territories.

ORANGE ZONE

A hotspot district can turn into an orange zone when no fresh cases are reported there in the last 14 days.

Only limited business activity and farm produce harvesting would be allowed in the areas falling under the orange zone.

Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) engaged in manufacturing of essential items like wheat flour (atta), pulse (dal) and edible oils are allowed to function freely while following social distancing norms.

GREEN ZONE

According to the Health Ministry, a hotspot which has not seen any fresh cases in the last 28 days can be turned into a green zone.

Several relaxations in lockdown in green zone areas were allowed in the consolidated guidelines by the MHA. More relaxations are expected to be announced soon.

The MHA had said that offices could run with limited occupancy and social distancing norms. Essential services and small-scale industries have also been allowed to function.

However, large gatherings, the opening of educational institutions, inter-state travel from these zones and private vehicles have not been allowed.

A total of 207 non-hotspot districts have been put under this category.

WHY ZONES NEED TO BE IDENTIFIED

Containment zones are created to map the local transmission of the disease and prevent the contagion from spreading.

The rapid response team (RRT) identifies containment zones based on the extent of cases/contacts listed and mapped by them.

Covid-19 affected areas in India have been divided into two zones- Containment zone and Buffer Zone.

Containment zones have been divided into sectors with 50 houses each (30 houses in difficult areas).

The cluster-containment strategy has yielded positive results

The health ministry has also created a buffer zone of an additional 5-kilometre radius (7 km in rural areas)/administrative boundary of including neighbouring districts/peri-urban zone shall also be identified. The efforts are in consonance with the government’s micro plan to contain local coronavirus transmission.

The inclusion criteria require a district to be designated a red zone if it satisfies any one of the three stated conditions. But the second and the third conditions make little sense.

Read | Odisha CM asks people not to panic, seeks cooperation in managing migrants workers who are expected to return

Read | Covid-19 lockdown to be relaxed in some districts, details soon: MHA

Watch | Mass exodus of migrant workers as lockdown 2.0 comes to an end

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