Devbrat Patnaik

Bhubaneswar: With the Centre extending the nationwide lockdown for two more weeks, relaxations will be granted to districts based on their risk profile. The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare today came up with a fresh list of COVID-19 hot pockets, distinctly categorising them as Red, Orange and Green Zones for a focused management of the pandemic at the field level post May 3.

There are 130 districts in the critical Red zone, 284 districts in the Orange zone and 319 in the Green corridor, as per the Ministry's classification and delimitation of zones for the week after May 3.

The list will be revised on a weekly basis or earlier and communicated to all States for further follow-up action in consonance with directions issued by MHA under Disaster Management Act, 2005, clarified Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan in his letter to Chief Secretaries of all States and UTs, in which he has designated these districts as Red, Orange and Green Zones.

Odisha's three districts- Jajpur, Bhadrak and Balasore where COVID cases have seen a steep rise over the last few days are classified in the Red Zone.

For the 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 Red/Orange Zone. District authorities should, however, exercise due caution in such areas so that these areas remain free from COVID19 cases.

The silver lining for Odisha is Khurda district has been placed in the Orange Zone. However, capital city Bhubaneswar reportedly continues to be in the Red Zone, as one new case was detected on Wednesday just 7 days prior to hitting the target of 21 days.

Other districts in the Orange Zone are Sundergarh, Kendrapara, Koraput, Dhenkanal and Kalahandi. Rest of the 21 districts are placed in the Green Zone.

It is further highlighted that based on field feedback and additional analysis at the state level, states may designate additional red or orange zones as appropriate. However, States may not relax the zonal classification of districts classified as Red/Orange as communicated by the Ministry, the letter mentioned.

The districts were earlier designated as hotspots or Red Zones, Orange Zones and Green Zones primarily based on the cumulative cases reported and the doubling rate. Since recovery rates have gone up, the districts are now being designated across various zones duly broad-basing the criteria. This classification is multi-factorial and takes into consideration incidence of cases, doubling rate, the extent of testing and surveillance feedback to classify the districts. As per the Ministry, a district will be considered under Green Zone if there are no confirmed cases so far or there is no reported case since last 21 days in the district.

Containment Zone Action Plan

The Health Ministry has also asked the States to ensure that necessary action for containment is initiated so as to break the chain of transmission of the virus in both red and orange zone districts reporting confirmed cases.

The containment zones in these districts have to be delineated based on:

  • Mapping of cases and contacts.
  • Geographical dispersion of cases and contacts.
  • Area with well-demarcated perimeter or enforceability.

Depending on the above factors, for urban areas residential colony/mohallas/municipal wards or police-station area/municipal zones/towns etc. as appropriate can be designated as containment zones.

Similarly, for rural areas - villages/clusters of villages or group of police stations/gram panchayats/ blocks etc. as appropriate can be designated as containment zones. The area should be appropriately defined by the district administration/local urban body with technical inputs from the local level. In the spirit of effective containment, it is advisable to err on the side of caution.

Further, a buffer zone around the containment zone has to be demarcated.

Necessary action should then be initiated in these areas as part of the containment action plans already communicated including-

  • Stringent perimeter control - Establishing clear entry and exit points, no movement except for medical emergencies and essential goods & services, no unchecked influx of population, people transiting to be recorded & followed through IDSP.
  • Active search for cases through house to house surveillance by special teams formed for the purpose.
  • Testing of all cases as per sampling guidelines.
  • Contact tracing.
  • Clinical management of all confirmed cases.

Similarly, in buffer zones, extensive surveillance for cases through monitoring of Influenza-like illness (ILI)/Severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) cases in health facilities has to be taken up.

All States are accordingly requested to delineate the containment zones and buffer zones in the identified red and orange zone districts and notify the same, said the Health Ministry.

India COVID-19 Red Orange Green Zone