In a departure from its earlier stance, the central government on Sunday gave states the power to classify COVID-19 zones as red, orange and green ones based on the spread and severity of cases.
Secretary of Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Preeti Sudan wrote to chief secretaries on the issue, outlining the approach states ought to follow for COVID-19 zoning of districts, municipal corporation jurisdictions or even sub-divisions.
The Health Ministry’s letter to states came in the backdrop of demands made by several chief ministers seeking more powers to decide on classification of virus-hit zones.
Earlier, the health ministry had said the categorisation of districts and cities as zones would be dynamic. States were earlier allowed to only classify additional red or orange zones and could not relax zonal classification of districts.
According to the Centre’s directives, a district or a city is a red zone if there are a large number of cases or it reports a high growth rate. If a red zone does not record a new case for 14 days, it gets classified as an orange zone and after another 14 days of zero cases, an orange zone can be classified as a green zone.
The level of restrictions on activities becomes lenient in descending order from red to green. While deciding the categorisation, the state has to take certain parameters into consideration, the health secretary’s letter stated.
These parameters comprise total active cases, active cases per lakh population, doubling rate (calculated over seven days), case fatality rate, testing ratio (number of tests per lakh population) and sample positivity rate.
The situation in a district, city or municipal area would be considered critical if there are more than 200 cases, the doubling rate is less than 14 days and case fatality rate is more than six per cent.
The health secretary also reiterated the measures to be taken in a containment zone, such as active door-to-door surveillance, contact tracing, seeking community help in surveillance and clinical management of all confirmed cases.