How Chennai turned the tide on COVID-19
A bottom-up strategy has helped the city municipality maintain their daily caseload and prevent it from spiralling.
That the number of new cases in Chennai has hovered around 1,000 for several months now, instead of rising exponentially, is a testament to the municipality’s efforts in containing the virus. This has been attributed to a micromanagement plan rolled out in June by the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) through which work in over 200 wards is being coordinated and supervised.
This includes door-to-door surveillance, setting up of fever clinics, increasing testing, and monitoring home quarantine through apps, all of which feed into computerised reports that helped in pandemic management. While daily cases have remained the same, the GCC has been able to avoid the formation of clusters like what happened in the early days of the pandemic.
To ensure more freedom for local officials who could coordinate workers and manage containment, 200 WhatsApp groups were created, headed by assistant and junior engineers. Daily meetings were organised with the workers involved in containment activities and plan for strategies were finalised. Like shifting of COVID-19 patients, contact-tracing, supervision of survey workers (sector health) and barricading of streets.
The groups were also used to post updates about fever camps, positive cases, etc and at the end of the day, senior officials got individual reports about the work undertaken in each division by the response team concerned, which was made up of AEs/JEs, divisional health officer, medical officer of the Urban Primary Health Centre, the sanitary inspector, the conservancy inspector and others. The setting up of fever camps and aggressive testing is a major part of this success. Nearly 61,000 fever camps were set up based on spatial and temporal analysis of 39,000 streets. They covered 30 lakh people and more than 1.75 swabs were taken.