As COVID-19 cases surge, India races to set up quarantine centres

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A recent Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) paper spoke about two scenarios of how India would stand against the coronavirus outbreak: a pessimistic one and an optimistic one.

In the optimistic scenario with the basic reproduction number (R0) being 1.5 (expected number of transmissions directly generated by one case), if half of the symptomatic patients are identified and quarantined, and if asymptomatic patients do not spread the disease, its prevalence will reduce by 62 per cent.

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However, in the pessimistic scenario (R0=4) if asymptomatic patients are half as infectious as symptomatic ones, the impact of quarantining half symptomatic patients would only be 2 per cent. The study revealed that 5 per cent of all affected cases would need intensive care, while half of that would need ventilators.

Further, it has found that community transmission will happen in the country, however, effective screening and quarantine will make a difference in the severity.

India’s ability to flatten the curve would largely depend on the quarantining exercise that is being conducted by the Modi government for 21 days. As India records more cases of COVID-19, authorities are working overtime to ensure that there are enough beds and quarantine facilities to accommodate the increasing need.

While a majority of people, travellers who have returned from high-risk areas and those who have come in contact with them, are being quarantined at home, others are being quarantined at isolation centres.

We take a look at some of the quarantine centres across the country:

Armed Forces quarantine centres:  The Army has built quarantine centres in Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Manesar and Jhansi to cater to the travellers from high-risk countries such as Iran, China, Italy, Korea, Spain, Japan, Greece and Germany. The country’s largest centre is located in Jaisalmer, has around 700 beds and is totally isolated with jawans on guard.

The rooms are equipped with blankets and neat bedding, a television and sports area where people can play games such as chess, caroms, badminton and football. The centre has a dedicated team of Indian Army doctors who are monitoring the health constantly. The 236 Indians who were evacuated from Iran were lodged at the Jaisalmer centre.

The Indian Navy has set up an isolation centre at INHS Asvini in Mumbai and is also setting up centres at the Navy’s Command HQs at Kochi and Vizag. The Navy has also commissioned a 100-bed quarantine facility at its material organisation warehouse in Ghatkopar. Further, Army medical facilities at Jhansi, Binnagun and Gaya, with a total capacity of 1,600, have also been kept ready to be used as isolation centres.

The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has also set up 19 quarantine centres across the country. The isolation wards have a total capacity of 2,000 and are located in Haryana, Assam, West Bengal, Odisha, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Bihar, Karnataka and Kerala, as per a report.

Hospitals: Till recently, the only isolation facility in Mumbai was at Kasturba Gandhi Hospital, which has exceeded its 120-bed limit. There have been varying reports about the conditions and facilities at the isolation ward.

People who are kept under quarantine or are awaiting their results have to share a ward with others, with the beds maintained at a distance of 1 metre from each other, which is the minimum distance required to prevent transmission.

However, there have been complaints about toilets and the ward not getting cleaned regularly and of stray animals venturing into the hospital.

The Seven Hills Hospital in Andheri, which had been shut down, is also being converted into an isolation centre for 300 people with an isolation ward for 30 people. RIL has set up a 100-bed facility at the Hospital with beds equipped with medical equipment such as ventilators, pacemakers and dialysis units.

As per reports, Mumbai’s Municipal Corporation has asked nine private hospitals, including Jaslok, HN Reliance, Kokilaben, Hinduja, SL Raheja, Lilavati and Bombay Hospital to prepare 25-bed facility at Seven Hills, as well.

Isolation wards with 500 beds will also be coming up at three hospitals in Mumbai to deal with the rising cases. The wards at GT Hospital, JJ Hospital and St George Hospital will also have 100 ventilator beds, apart from other essentials such as amtteresses, machinery and medical equipment.

In Delhi, the Safdarjung Hospital is being used as a quarantine centre. People who have stayed at the isolation rooms either as patients or while getting tests done have said that the facilities are at par with those of private hospitals.

The rooms have been described as being hygienic and well-maintained, with large windows, airconditioning, clean linen that are changed regularly and helpful medical staff. 25 other hospitals, both private and state owned, have also been asked to set up isolation wards.

Kerala was one of the first states to set up isolation wards for patients who had tested positive for the virus and for those who had returned from high-risk countries. Kerala’s healthcare workers and the Government has been praised for their efforts in trying to control the virus and the state has been working overtime to house its increasing number of isolation cases.

The Kalamassery Government Hospital in Ernakulam district has been serving its patients in its coronavirus-specific isolation wards nutritious meals which include eggs, fruits such as oranges and bananas, and healthy dishes such as dosa and sambar and appam and stew. Other Government Hospitals have also set up isolation wards within their units.

Stadiums and convention centres: Across the country, stadiums are being readied to become massive quarantine centres if required, as per news reports. Assam, which has not reported any positive case so far, is converting the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium as a quarantine centre with the capacity to hold 1,000 people. The stadium will house family members of people who have been tested positive and will have attached bathrooms and facilities for food.

West Bengal is also readying a quarantine centre at Kaiyaganj in Uttar Dinajpur, which will have a male and female ward, nursing station, doctor’s room and a separate room for health workers and other staff.

The North Orissa Chamber of Commerce & Industry (NOCCI) campus in Balasore has been converted into a quarantine centre which can accommodate 1,000 beds if the requirement arises. Spread over an area of 2.5 lakh square foot, reports state that the quarantine centre will be equipped with bed covers, toilets, electricity, sanitizers and soaps.

Hotels: The Delhi Government has also set up quarantine facilities at three private hotels – Red Fox, Lemon Tree and IBIS, located in Aerocity. People lodged at these facilities will have to pay Rs 3,100 per day, excluding taxes and will be given three meals, two water bottles, tea or coffee and services such as television and WiFi, as per reports.

Around 31 hotels in Kolkata have also agreed to offer pay and stay facilities for those under 14-day isolation. All the rooms will have attached bathrooms, the linen will be cleaned daily and any soiled clothes and towels will not be mixed with those of others and will be washed with bleach and disinfected and sun dried thoroughly before use, as per news reports.

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