Odishatv Bureau

New Delhi: Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan wrote to the Chief Secretaries of all states/Union Territories on Sunday informing the Centre's decision to allow states/UTs to demarcate green, orange and red zones while giving a sense of things to keep in mind as they venture to take a serious responsibility to contain the pandemic.

Sudan, in her letter, informed that any area, be it a district or a sub-division can be categorised as one of the zones but of course after considering geographical spread of the case. She reiterated the parameters which the states should consider while going ahead with identifying zones.

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Giving a sense on when and how to gauge the seriousness of the situation, Sudan cited a graph that says that total active cases in an area of more than 200 should be considered as "critical" as more than 15 active cases per lakh individuals should also be considered the same. She even said that whenever the fatality rate is more than 6 percent or confirmation rate of positive cases is more than 6 percent, states/UTs should consider the situation as "critical".

"The most important task, once the zones are identified, is field action in terms of implementation of a containment plan of action," she said.

The Health Secretary also stressed the need to determine the buffer zones inside the red and orange zones that can prove to be crucial in this fight against Covid-19. Telling the states the importance of the containment zone and its surveillance, Sudan noted how vital it is for enforcing a perimeter control which curbs people moving in or out of that area.

Citing the need for "stringent action" in these areas, she reminded the states and UTs the importance of special teams, testing and contact tracing.

"A containment operation (large outbreak or cluster)is deemed successful when no cases reported in 28 days from the containment zone," she said.

While she urged the states and UTs to be equally mindful of scanning the buffer zones and engaging a vast array of health workers to determine Covid-19 cases frothier, Sudan said the success mantra remains "effective field action".

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On Sunday, the Centre extended the current lockdown by another couple of weeks till May 31.

"Under the new guidelines, States and Union Territories (UTs) will now categorise Red, Green and Orange zones taking into consideration the parameters shared by the Health Ministry," said the MHA on Sunday. It added that the zones can be a district, or a municipal corporation or municipality or for that matter even smaller administrative units such as sub-divisions, which will be decided by States and UTs. This has been a long standing demand which was vociferously put forward by Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee among other CMs.