New Delhi: The Delhi government has so far quarantined the homes of nearly 46,000 individuals by placing stickers outside their residences, according to data accessed from the health department.
Officials are using green and red-coloured stickers with a warning message that reads, “Please do not visit. Home under quarantine.”
As of 6 April, 22,931 people were in quarantine as they were in contact with those who tested positive or are suspected to have contracted Covid-19. Another 22,997 are quarantined in Delhi due to their travel history.
Of those in the first category, 5,693 have already completed their 14-day quarantine period while 21,853 in the travel-related category have already completed their term.
As a result, only 18,382 are still under quarantine.
During this period, the Delhi Police has registered 247 FIRs against those violating rules under home quarantine.
Delhi reported 22 new coronavirus cases Monday, taking its total of positive cases to 523. There have been seven deaths in the national capital while 19 have been cured.
The quarantine process
The process of putting stickers on homes began on 21 March after Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal made an announcement in this regard.
Delhi govt is marking all homes with persons advised to home quarantine. I appeal to all not to stigmatize such families. Please be empathetic and supportive towards them. The marking is aimed only at cautioning others for their own safety. #DelhiFightsCorona https://t.co/4U0CbwaOQG
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) March 22, 2020
It is part of the 5Ts strategy that Kejriwal highlighted Tuesday in the fight against the coronavirus. The 5Ts are testing, tracing (of cases), treatment, teamwork and tracking and monitoring efforts.
1st T – Testing
We will aggressively test to identify, treat, trace, quarantine and seal, along the lines of South Korea#DelhiFightsCorona
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) April 7, 2020
Several Delhi government officials ThePrint spoke to explained that teams have been constituted under each district magistrate. The teams visit households to paste the stickers so as to spread awareness and also keep neighbours informed.
The government began the drive from the central and north-west districts covering neighbourhoods such as Civil Lines, Ashok Vihar, Saraswati Vihar and Karol Bagh.
“Ever since the Markaz episode got highlighted, the Nizamuddin area, in particular, has a large number of houses under quarantine. Similarly, given the rising cases in Dilshad Garden, another Covid-19 hub in Delhi, it has also seen an increase in the number of quarantine stickers over the past four days,” said a Delhi government official requesting anonymity.
The New Delhi district magistrate Tanvi Garg said the stickers were necessitated as many people did not comply with the quarantine norms at the beginning of the epidemic.
“Initially, there was a lack of compliance but ever since we began pasting posters and putting up the stickers, it’s been helpful to sensitise neighbours and proves seriousness to the person/family as well,” Garg said. “Of course, ever since the lockdown the compliance is even better.”
An approximate 4,000 individuals have been under home quarantine in her district, of whom some have already completed the 14-day period.
Another member of the Covid-19 task force in Delhi said, “We either conduct surprise checks or check the phones of these people to see if rules are being adhered to or not and accordingly initiate action.”
The Delhi Police has also been a part of the efforts. Until Monday, the police had registered 247 FIRs against those violating the norms for home quarantine in Delhi under multiple sections of the IPC including “negligently acting to spread infection of disease dangerous to life” and a “malignant act likely to spread infection of disease”.
Delhi’s contact-tracing and quarantine norms
For contact tracing, administrative staff are relying on travel history through contact details and addresses available on passports. In cases of positive Covid-19 patients, they are quizzed on all those they were in contact with before they were tested and details are accordingly sought.
The government has also constituted a local integrated diseases surveillance programme (IDSP) to keep tabs on those under quarantine.
Under the Delhi government’s guidelines, those in self-quarantine at home can’t step out even for essentials. They have been advised to order food online or rely on friends or extended family. “One should ensure that the person who delivers keeps the stuff outside the entrance door and does not enter the house,” reads the document.
“In case of any difficulty, the deputy commissioner’s helpline extensions are provided,” said an officer in the health department.
Those living with big joint families have been told to restrict themselves to a ventilated room in the house. “Keep the door of the room closed and use a separate toilet or if that option is not there then one must use the washroom only after everyone has used it,” reads the advisory issued to those under home quarantine adding how one must not share soap or towels under any circumstances.
The quarantine efforts have, however, had complaints. Multiple queries have come from Muslim families who feel they were being targeted simply because of the Markaz incident.
“A lady contacted me over the weekend alleging that the sticker was being put outside because it was assumed that her husband went to the Jamaat. She also claimed that there were no symptoms anyway yet,” an official told ThePrint. “We then have to counsel such people on home quarantine is recommended for all asymptomatic (without symptoms) persons, and that they would have been in isolation had they actually been too unwell.”
Delhi govt shifts Covid-19 patients to two hospitals
The Delhi government Monday decided to shift all of its Covid-19 positive patients to two designated hospitals — the Lok Nayak Hospital (which includes the GB Pant Hospital) with a capacity of 2,000 beds and the Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital that can accommodate 450 beds. Both will now be dedicated to just coronavirus cases.
The decision was taken to prevent intermixing of Covid-19 cases with other patients in the hospitals so as to reduce transmission, a Delhi government official of the health department told ThePrint.
This also comes after the Dr S.K. Sarin committee to chalk out the Covid-19 strategy in Delhi, recommended it in its report. According to the report, for every 2,500 patients admitted to hospitals, there would be a requirement of 10,000 isolation beds for people with mild symptoms.
“For every 100 positive patients, 2.3 require ventilation, 15 require ICU while the remaining require isolation and home quarantine in that regard, lest they show symptoms,” Dr Sarin told ThePrint. “It is in this regard that isolation beds were recommended outside hospitals, be it at home or quarantine centres.”