Cluster management strategy to combat surge in cases

Health workers seen busy conducting Rapid antigen/RT-PCR test of COVID-19 virus. File (representational image)

Health workers seen busy conducting Rapid antigen/RT-PCR test of COVID-19 virus. File (representational image)

The Health Department has devised a cluster management strategy in the context of the surge in cases and the formation of a large number of case clusters in many institutions, offices and hospitals.

The department reckons that given the high level of COVID vaccination in the State, the immunity afforded in the population because of prior infection and the good proportion of the population developing hybrid immunity, the risk of progression of infection even if they get infected is low.

The focus is thus on proper strategies to limit the spread of infection to prevent the total closure of offices and other institutions, so that normal life is not affected.

Closure of institutions should be considered as the last resort.

Having fought the pandemic in a highly centralised fashion these past two years, more as a law and order issue rather than as a public health problem, the Health Department is now emphasising on individual responsibility to protect themselves against infection.

Even within institutions, the department now is focussing on intra-institutional measures to limit transmission, rather than the department imposing restrictions from above.

All staff members should remain in home isolation for seven days if they develop symptoms of fever, cough, sore throat and myalgia, headache or persistent rhinitis. Of the contacts, only those with comorbidities need to get tested, before isolating themselves.

The cluster management strategy also envisages the setting up of an infection control team in all institutions, schools and offices. ICT members will be trained online in infection control protocols and practices as well as contact tracing.

The infection control team will be responsible for doing symptom checking daily using a checklist among all staff members. In the case of any case clusters, all high risk contacts should be identified and quarantined by the team.

A COVID-19 cluster is said to have formed if more than two persons with confirmed or suspected Covid are identified within seven days in the same class, office room, or institution. It is considered to be a large cluster if more than 10 sick persons are identified

The ICT should ensure that eating together is not practiced in offices/institutions and the lunch break timings should be staggered. They should also ensure that all are wearing well-fitting N-95 masks inside the institution and that the office space/classrooms are well ventilated.

If a large cluster is identified, the institution/classroom should be closed for 10 days. In case more than five large clusters are identified, the institution may be closed down for five days.

The Health Department reiterates that wherever possible, schools, offices and institutions should remain open and that normal life should not be disrupted.

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Printable version | May 19, 2022 11:04:14 am |