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Government draws COVID response plan for overcrowded areas

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Government draws COVID response plan for overcrowded areasNew Delhi, May 17 (IANS) The Directorate General of Health Services has come up with a preparedness and response plan to the deadly COVID-19 in ”Urban Informal settlements” within cities that have mushroomed due to migration, inadequate housing and poor living conditions.

These localities are often overcrowded, with many people living in very small spaces which often don”t get the attention they deserve, particularly during a pandemic when social distancing is the key. The Health Ministry wants local bodies or municipal corporations to lead in planning preparedness for COVID-19.

“An ”Incident Commander” of appropriate seniority would be identified depending upon the geographic extent of the settlements and their population size. The ”Incident Commander” will plan and decide on logistics”, the planning note reads.

That commander will lead a team and put in place a coordination mechanism in dealing with an outbreak there. His team will comprise representatives from Health, W&CD, ICDS, Housing & Urban Affairs, Public Health Engineering Wing, Swachh Bharat Mission, elected representatives, prominent NGOs already serving the area and community leaders.

Surveillance and containment are the twin strategies based on which the Centre seeks to address such challenges. “An orientation plan will be organized by the Chief Medical Officer/Executive Health Officer to train the identified surveillance workers,” says the note.

Basic information on COVID-19, active case search through questionnaire during field visits, listing and tracking of contacts, identification of high-risk individuals based on contact history, age, and co-morbidities are some of the key areas of the training.

“The DGHS understands that there may not be community level structures in these settlement areas that can be transformed into COVID care centers, but existing facilities must be identified by an urban local body near these settlements and should be earmarked as COVID care centers”.

The ”Incident Commander” who is a crucial player in this scheme of things, is tasked to daily review the implementation of containment plans in the settlements, the note said.

–IANS

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