Containment of COVID-19 is possible, says Union Health Ministry
The spread of COVID-19, which has sickened more than 90,000 people in India, has triggered widespread public concerns. People are worried that the situation might go out of hand, turning into a major outbreak like that in the US and Italy. However, the Union Health Ministry says that containing the disease is still possible. Here's how.
In a document released on Saturday, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said mathematical models have shown that COVID-19 containment is possible, especially when the effort is combined with public health interventions and an effective social distancing strategy. However, at the same time, the Ministry also emphasized that the success of these operations "cannot be guaranteed" as there is efficient human-to-human transmission.
As COVID-19 cases have emerged in large clusters, the government plans to restrict the infection within a defined geographic region after early detections so that it could not spread to other, safe regions. "Geographic quarantine shall be applicable to such areas reporting large outbreak and/or multiple clusters of COVID-19 spread over multiple blocks of one or more districts that are contiguous," the Ministry said.
The Ministry added that the geographic quarantine strategy "calls for near absolute interruption of movement of people to and from a relatively large defined area where there is [a] single large outbreak or multiple foci of local transmission of COVID-19." This will be combined with social distancing, enhanced active surveillance, testing of all suspected cases, isolation of cases, and quarantine of their contacts.
The states will manage the geographic quarantine areas, but the success of these operations would depend on the number and size of the cluster and also how efficiently the virus is transmitting within the population, the document said. These two things will directly depend on how aggressively the states will carry out tests in these zones, isolate patients, and trace/quarantine their contacts.