The guidelines on the phased exit from the lockdown across India came into force from June 1. They state that gradually, in three phases, services like malls, hotels and restaurants, will be opened across states, except for containment zones that states have been asked to demarcate.
According to the Centre’s guidelines, containment zones are delineated based on the mapping of cases and contacts, the geographical dispersion of cases and contacts, an area having well demarcated perimeter and the enforceability of perimeter control.
There are strict instructions when it comes to containment zones. A strict perimeter control is in place and clear entry and exit points are established. No movement is allowed, except for medical emergencies and essential goods and services. People are not allowed to leave without checks.
Around each containment zone, a buffer zone is delineated. This is defined by the district administration or local urban bodies with technical inputs at local level. A buffer zone will be primarily the area wherein additional and focused attention is needed so as to ensure that infection does not spread to adjoining areas.
Here is how a containment zone and a buffer zone is demarcated across the five south Indian states.
In Karnataka, the definition of a containment zone was recently tweaked. Earlier, while it was 100 metres around a positive case, now only the street where the positive case has been detected is marked a containment zone. In apartments, the immediate floor above and below is a containment zone. In a slum area, the street which has the residence of the coronavirus positive person and an immediate street on either side (next and behind) respectively, are cordoned off.
An area is demarcated as a containment zone and remains as such until there are no positive cases for 28 days. A buffer zone is defined as an area in a radius of 200 meters around the residence of the COVID-19 positive person. Health authorities will conduct active surveillance and social distancing measures in the buffer zone as in the containment zone.
Containment zone is formed for areas where a cluster of cases or clusters of cases emerges. A cluster is defined as an area where more than five cases are reported or five families and more are affected by COVID-19. In the case of a village, if a cluster is reported, an entire village (affected habitation) is demarcated as a containment zone. In corporation and municipality, the affected street or part of the street is demarcated as a containment zone depending on the ground situation. In the case of multi-storeyed building the entire affected multi storey building or the part where cases are reported, is cordoned off.
In case of slums, where it is highly crowded, and maintaining social distance is a challenge, families of positive cases and their neighbours if necessary, shall be put in institutional quarantine. In cases of upto five primary cases or only upto five households having positive cases, members of those affected households and their neighbors, if necessary, will be put in home quarantine.
In Telangana, all the localities reporting COVID-19 cases are cordoned off by barricading the entire locality. The exact boundaries of the containment zone is location-specific and depending upon the number of positive cases from that area. The size of the containment zone depends on the incidence level, with an approximate radius of 100 metres, 200 metres or 500 metres. In cases, where there are more than one positive case in a particular area, a containment zone can be for an area of 250 metres. The state guidelines also say that there should be an ‘adequate’ buffer zone that local authorities can decide upon.
In Andhra Pradesh, containment zones are based on whether an area is defined as a very active cluster, an active cluster and a dormant cluster. Clusters that have fresh cases and have reported cases in the last five days are classified as ‘Very Active Clusters’. Clusters which had cases in the last six to 14 days as ‘Active’ clusters. Clusters which had cases only in the last 15 to 28 days as ‘Dormant’ Clusters.
In case of Very Active and Active clusters, generally the containment zone is a core area of 200 metres around the positive cases and a buffer area of an additional 200 metres. However, in the case of a large cluster, where there are more than 10 active cases, the core area shall be to an extent of 500 metres and an additional 500 metres shall act as a buffer zone.
In case of Dormant Clusters, the buffer zone may be relaxed and opened up for all types of economic activity, with sufficient care and caution to ensure the core area is properly contained. The core area of 200 metres shall continue to operate till cases dwindle.
In Kerala, while a clear demarcation has not been defined owing to the geographical layout of the state, where many areas are not habitable, Thiruvalla sub-collector Vinay Goyal told TNM that three kilometres around the area where a COVID-19 positive patient is located is marked as a containment zone. The buffer zone is the next five kilometers, he added.