The Union Health Secretary of India, Preeti Sudan (IAS), has issued a notice to the Chief Secretaries of all States and Union Territories (UT) segregating districts, across all states and UTs, as red, orange and green zones. This comes in light, with the subsequent surge in recovery rates, following the lockdown spanning for almost a month and a half. Uttar Pradesh tops the list with the highest number of red zones. It is followed closely by Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Delhi. Assam stands with the highest number of green zones. Coming to Andhra Pradesh, the districts declared as red zones are Kurnool, Guntur, Krishna, Chittoor and Nellore. The districts marked as an orange zone are West Godavari, Kadapa, Ananthapur, Prakasam, East Godavari, Srikakulam and Vizag. The only district to be declared a green zone in Andhra Pradesh is Vizianagaram.
Out of the 26 cases, reported in Visakhapatnam District, 20 individuals have recovered from the deadly virus. With this current COVID-19 number, as per the Central Government, Vizag has been declared as an orange zone. Currently, two patients are undergoing treatment at the GITAM Hospital and a woman, who tested positive two days ago, is being treated at the VIMS Hospital. Two new coronavirus cases, of a mother and son who got diagnosed together as COVID-19 positive, and one COVID-19 death have mounted the tally to 26 in Vizag District. The mother has been admitted at VIMS Hospital, whereas the son has been relocated to GITAM Hospital. The authorities in Vizag are attending a video conference where the guidelines, for red, orange and green zones, will be decided. These will be released by the Andhra Pradesh State Government soon.
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The letter, to the respective Chief Secretaries and Secretaries of Health of all the states, specified “to ensure that we identify the pockets of critical interventions for focused management of COVID-19 at the field level.” A total of 130 districts have been categorised as red zones, 284 as orange zones and 319 as green zones. The Union Health Secretary has also stated that the list of the classification of the districts is dynamic and will be updated on a weekly basis.
As per the notice, the districts were earlier classified as hotspots (red, orange and green zones) based on new cases reported and the doubling rates of the cases. However, since the recovery rates have now improved, the classification of the districts have now become “multi-factorial”. It now classifies districts on the basis of incidence of cases, doubling rate, the extent of testing and surveillance feedback.
It further highlighted that, based on feedback from fieldwork and additional analysis, the states are free to designate red and orange zones to districts if they find appropriate. But the zonal classifications of the districts, by the Ministry, as red or orange zones, can not be altered. The criteria for a green zone, as per the notice, is if there are no confirmed cases so far or there are no reported cases since last 21 days in the respective districts.
For districts having one or more municipal corporations; “The corporations, and other areas of districts, may be treated as separate units. If one or more of these units have reported no cases for the last 21 days, they can be considered as one level lower in zonal classification, in case the district is in orange or red zones” it further added.
The letter further explained the factors based on the containment of the virus in both the red and orange zones. These are the mapping of cases and contacts, geographical dispersion of cases and contacts, the area with well-demarcated perimeter, and enforceability. Depending on these factors, the containment zones, in both urban and rural areas (colonies, mohallas, municipal wards in urban areas and village or clusters of villages in rural areas), have to be appropriately defined by the district administration or local body. Each containment zone will also have a buffer zone demarcated around it. These containment zones will then be further monitored to break the chain of transmission of the virus.