Stepped-up scan for lockdown violation in Calcutta – Telegraph India

Kolkata News

The state government is planning to step up surveillance in congested slums and other places in and around Calcutta from where the authorities will receive reports of lockdown violations, the step aimed at fighting the spread of Covid-19.

The decision on surveillance was taken at a meeting on Tuesday attended by Calcutta’s mayor Firhad Hakim and senior government officials.

“The rapid spread of the coronavirus in Mumbai’s Dharavi slum has left all of us worried. That is why the slums of Calcutta have been identified as areas where surveillance may need to be stepped up,” said an official of the health department.

Till Tuesday evening, 55 cornavirus cases, including seven deaths, have been reported from Dharavi.

“In Calcutta’s slums, there are common bathing areas and toilets. There are narrow congested lanes and the virus can spread fast,” said the official. “The next 15 days will be important and we are increasing surveillance in Calcutta and other parts of Bengal,” he said.

Several fever clinics have been opened in government and private hospitals across the city but officials fear not too many people will turn up there despite running a temperature.

The officials feel active surveillance would help in tracking such cases.

One official said there were reports that residents of several slums in the city were violating the lockdown.

The officials, however, clarified that at this moment they were not planning to impose total lockdown on those areas.

“Instead, surveillance will be stepped up. We are planning visit to every house by officials of the health department and the Calcutta Municipal Corporation. The officials will track down people with fever or other symptoms of Covid-19 and send them to isolation wards of SARI hospitals,” said the official.

The government has set up several treatment centres for SARI, or severe acute respiratory infection, in Calcutta and other parts of the state. People who have Covid-19 symptoms but not yet diagnosed of being infected by the virus are being admitted there.

The Telegraph has reported that the Calcutta Municipal Corporation has started a drive that involves civic workers visiting every house and finding out whether anyone has coronavirus symptoms.

At Tuesday’s meeting, it was decided that health department workers, too, will be visiting slums to intensify the vigil.

In rural areas, the state government is planning to deploy more personnel for fever surveillance.

“There will be more accredited social health activists (ASHA), auxiliary nurse midwifery (ANM) personnel and public health nurses,” a health department official said.

“All these workers will be provided with vehicles to move around in a large area and carry out fever surveillance.”

The officials are also planning to expand community participation by involving NGOs to make the surveillance more effective, said sources.

Public health experts said unless the community was involved in house-to-house surveillance, the programme would never succeed.

“The number of ASHA and ANM workers and public health nurses is far less than what is required for such a large-scale surveillance. So, NGOs should be involved,” said a public health expert.

Metro reported last week that many people, especially in rural areas, are scared of going to hospital even if they are having fever. They fear they would be ostracised.

“Instead of depending on self-reporting by people, we are planning active surveillance,” the health department official said.