The Tamil Nadu government updated guidelines for demarcating containment zones in the state on Monday According to the new guidelines, an area that has more than five positive primary COVID-19 cases or more than five families infected with COVID-19 is considered a containment area and will be demarcated from the rest of the uninfected areas. Every containment zone will be surrounded by a buffer zone. In rural areas, this will be a 0.5 km buffer and in urban areas it would be delineated based on local conditions.
Earlier, when the guidelines were devised in March, containment zones were demarcated for a radius of five kilometres from the infected patient and a buffer zone extended from the containment zone for another two kilometres. The containment zone was further divided into sectors having 50 households each for supervision by healthcare workers.
As per the new notification, in the case of a village, if five or more than five primary cases or families are tested positive for the infection, then the entire village is demarcated as a containment zone.
In a corporation or a municipality, only the affected street or a part of the street is demarcated. In the case of a multi-storey building, the entire building or just the affected part of the building are demarcated and isolated.
In the case of slums, where population density is higher, since physical distancing will be a challenge in these areas, families who test positive for the infection will be taken to institutional quarantine.
However, if the number of primary cases is five or less than five (individuals or households), then only those houses and their neighbours, if required, will be quarantined.
What will happen in these containment zones?
In addition to establishing clear entry and exit points to and from the containment zones, movement will be restricted except for emergencies and essential services. People moving in and out of these containment zones will be recorded and followed using the Ministry of Health and Family Welfareâ€™s Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (IDSP).
Within containment zones, house-to-house surveillance will be done. In case of rural areas, one health officer will be assigned for the containment zone; if it's an urban area, one health worker will be assigned per 100 houses.
In buffer zones, extensive monitoring for Influenza Like Illness (ILI) and Severe Acute Respiratory Infection (SARI) cases will be done. Health facilities and available healthcare workforce will be identified. All health facilities in these buffer zones, including local clinics, will have to report suspected COVID-19 cases on a real time basis to district-level control rooms.
Containment operations will seize in the containment zone if no new cases are reported in over 14 days.
As of May 19, Chennai has a total number of 758 containment areas spread across 15 zones.