Published: 21st April 2020 08:34 AM

VISAKHAPATNAM: The multi-pronged approach adopted in Visakhapatnam has set the tone for tackling Covid-19 in other districts, as meticulous planning and a coordinated strategy for containment zones has helped restrain the spread of the virus in the district.

“We were prepared much in advance to tackle the virus, and had formed 20 Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) and committees headed by professionals,” explains Visakhapatnam Collector V Vinay Chand. He, however, candidly admits that there is still a long way to go in making the district coronavirus-free.
So far, the district has recorded 21 cases. “We have been successful in containing the spread of the pandemic, but the chapter has not ended. We will ramp up testing and screen all frontline staff, including health and sanitation workers, paramedics, and people with comorbidities now,” he says “We were almost taken to task as after the first case was recorded in the city, five more were reported within two days. We were faced with a daunting challenge. Some of us may have taken a while to react,but in the end, everyone reacted well in time,” Chand says.

Covid-19 Instructions

Collector V Vinay Chand interacting with personnel of truenat testing lab facility during his visit at Government Hospital for Chest and Communicable Diseases in Visakhapatnam

Vizag’s preparedness and containment approach even received appreciation from Joint Secretary of the Health Ministry Luv Aggarwal, who tweeted that the district emerged as a model as no positive cases were reported for almost 10 days (at the time of his tweet). The district went on to record no new cases for 12 days, until one was reported on Sunday.

Over 3,000 foreign returnees are in the district and have been advised home quarantine. But since there was no way to check if they were in quarantine, 250 resident doctors were roped in to take care of 5-10 foreign returnees each. “When the returnees show symptoms, they are tested,” Chand explains.

“We were prepared ahead of other districts apart from Nellore. Besides, Vizag is special since it has a large port, and many pharma and IT units. It is densely populated and required a cautious approach. The first case forced us to put in place one of the best models in the country. As many as 20 highly-professional monitoring committees headed by experts in various fields were formed as part of the preparedness drive,” Chand says, adding that monitoring committees have pulmonologists, microbiologists, DMHO and DCHMS, a mix of administrators and experts.

The need for RRTs arose in GVMC areas as unlike PHCs in rural areas, the NACs in urban areas don’t have many staff. These RRTs have assistant and associate professors, paramedical, and town planning officials of the GVMC. Each has a replacement RRT after eight hours and they are stationed at a centrally-located area of five wards. The RRTs are given ambulances. “As 108 ambulances were earmarked for emergency services, close to 38 private ambulances were pooled and RTC deployed expert drivers for plying ambulances. The drivers were given protective gear,” he said.

Professional lab committees interrogate people who test positive and make a list of their primary contacts. The contacts are then quarantined. Buffer and containment zones are marked, all houses surveyed, and individuals with symptoms are tested. All protocols issued by the Centre were implemented from day one, the collector said.

“Regular video conferences with officials, including the Chief Minister, Chief Secretary and Health Secretary, helped ensure we are on the right path. Quick instructions and decisions also helped us understand the epidemic better,” he added.

“So far, it has been a collective approach by all stakeholders in helping contain the virus. It’s like we are at an interval and there is a second half. We are ready to face the situation. The experience we gained in the last 20-25 days will come in handy. The lockdown has definitely helped us plan better. The sole objective now is to test as many people as possible to identify whether there is any hidden spread and take corrective steps,” Chand said, adding that having institutions such as GITAM, Andhra Medical College and NRI medical college in the city is an advantage.

“There has indeed been physical stress and strain on me. My family was largely at home and I could hardly spend half an hour or so there every day. These difficulties do not matter because we are working for society,” he said.

“The Collector starts work early in the day and goes to bed late at night. He never likes to keep anything pending. His first task every morning is to clear pending files before he attends review meetings and video conferences. Sometimes, has eats in his chamber when he can’t go home,” said an official at the collectorate.Referring to precautions taking by him, the Collector said, “I have been following the standard precautions of personal hygiene such as washing hands.”

Published: MARCH 14, 2020
COVID-19: quarantine facility bed strength increased to 600 in cityIn the wake of increase in number of COVID-19 cases at various parts and increase in arrival of passengers from abroad, the Health Department has extended the quarantine facility to 600 beds from 300 in Visakhapatnam on Saturday.
Earlier, the officials have decided to set up a 250-bed quarantine at Visakha Institute of Medical Sciences (VIMS) and around 60-bed facility at Hudhud Colony.On Saturday, the District Collector V. Vinay Chand interacting with officials of Visakha Institute of Medical Sciences where 400-bed quarantine facility is being arranged. Another 100 beds will be provided at various places like GITAM hospital, Navy hospital and others. The VIMS quarantine will have 11 doctors and two nurses to help the isolated persons who would be placed there for observation.
600 Beds

District Collector V. Vinay Chand interacting with officials of Visakha Institute of Medical Sciences where 400-bed quarantine facility is being arranged on Saturday.

Detail Question and Answers on COVID-19 for Public

What is corona virus 

Corona viruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness  in animals or humans.  In humans, several coronaviruses are known  to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.

What is COVID-19 

COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered corona virus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19 

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Most  people  (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention. 

How does COVID-19 spread 

People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 1 meter (3 feet) away from a person who is sick.

Can the virus that causes COVID-19 be transmitted through the air? 

Studies to date suggest that the virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets rather than through the air. See previous answer on “How does COVID-19 spread?”

Can CoVID-19 be caught from a person who has no symptoms? 

The main way the disease spreads is through respiratory droplets expelled by someone who is coughing. The risk of catching COVID-19 from someone with no symptoms at all is very low. However, many people with COVID-19 experience only mild symptoms. This is particularly true at the early stages of the disease. It is therefore possible to catch COVID-19 from someone who has, for example, just a mild cough and does not feel ill.

Can I catch COVID-19 from the feces of someone with the disease? 

The risk of catching COVID-19 from the feces of an infected person appears to be low. While initial investigations suggest the virus may  be present in feces in some cases, spread through this route is not a main feature of the outbreak. The ongoing research on the ways COVID-19 is spread and will continue to share new findings. Because this is a risk, however, it is another reason to clean hands regularly, after using the bathroom and before eating.

What can I do to protect myself and prevent the spread of  disease 

Protection measures for everyone 

Stay aware of the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak, available on the national,state and local public health authority. Many countries around the world have seen cases of COVID-19 and several have seen outbreaks. Authorities in China and some other countries have succeeded in slowing or stopping their outbreaks. However, the situation is unpredictable so check regularly for the latest news.

You can reduce your chances of being infected or spreading COVID- 19 by taking some simple precautions:

  • Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol- based  hand  rub  or  wash  them  with  soap   and   water.   Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
  • Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone       who       is        coughing        or        sneezing.   Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.
  • Avoid       touching       eyes,       nose        and        mouth.  Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up  viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
  • Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or  Then dispose of  the used tissue immediately. Why? Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.
  • Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow   the   directions   of   your   local   health   authority.  Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent spread of viruses and other infections.
  • Keep up to date on the latest COVID-19 hotspots (cities or local areas where COVID-19 is spreading widely). If possible, avoid traveling to places – especially if you are an older person or  have diabetes, heart  or  lung  disease. Why? You have a higher chance of catching COVID-19 in one of these areas.

Protection measures for persons who are in or have  recently visited  (past  14 days) areas where COVID-19 is spreading 

  • Follow the guidance outlined above (Protection measures for everyone)
  • Self-isolate by staying at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache, low grade fever (37.3 C or above) and slight runny nose, until you recover. If it is essential for you to have someone bring you supplies or to go out, e.g. to buy food, then wear a mask to avoid infecting other people. Why? Avoiding contact with others and visits to medical facilities will allow these facilities to operate more effectively and help protect you and others from possible COVID-19 and other viruses.
  • If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing,  seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition. Call in advance and tell your provider  of  any  recent  travel  or  contact  with  travelers.   Why? Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also help to prevent possible spread of COVID-19 and other viruses.

How likely am I to catch COVID-19? 

The risk depends on where you are – and more specifically, whether there is a COVID-19 outbreak unfolding there.

For most people in most locations the risk of catching COVID-19 is  still low. However, there are now places around the world (cities or areas) where the disease is spreading. For people living in, or visiting, these areas the risk of catching COVID-19 is higher. Governments  and health authorities are taking vigorous action every time a new case of COVID-19 is identified. Be sure to comply with any local restrictions on travel, movement or large gatherings. Cooperating with disease control efforts will reduce your risk of catching or spreading COVID-19.

COVID-19 outbreaks can be contained and transmission stopped, as has been shown in China and some other countries. Unfortunately, new outbreaks can emerge rapidly. It’s important to be aware of the situation where you are or intend to go.

Should I worry about COVID-19? 

Illness due to COVID-19 infection is generally mild, especially for children and young adults. However, it can cause serious  illness: about 1 in every 5 people who catch it need hospital care. It is therefore quite normal for people to worry about how the COVID-19 outbreak will affect them and their loved ones.

We can channel our concerns into actions to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities. First and foremost among these actions is regular and thorough hand-washing and good respiratory hygiene. Secondly, keep informed and follow the advice of the local health authorities including any restrictions put in place on travel, movement and gatherings. 

Who is at risk of developing severe illness 

While we are still learning about how COVID-2019 affects people, older persons and persons with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes) appear to develop serious illness more often than others.

Are antibiotics effective in preventing or treating the COVID-19? 

No. Antibiotics do not work against viruses, they only work on  bacterial infections. COVID-19 is caused by a virus, so antibiotics do not work. Antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment of COVID-19. They should only be used as directed by a physician to treat a bacterial infection.

Are there any medicines or therapies that can prevent or cure COVID-19 

While some western, traditional or home remedies may provide comfort and alleviate symptoms of COVID-19, there is no evidence that current medicine can prevent or cure the disease. We does not recommend self-medication with any medicines, including antibiotics, as a prevention or cure for COVID-19. However, there are several ongoing clinical trials that include both western and traditional medicines. We will continue to provide updated information as soon  as clinical findings are available.

Is there a vaccine drug or treatment for COVID-19 

Not yet. To date, there is no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-2019. However, those affected should receive care to relieve symptoms. People with serious illness should be hospitalized. Most patients recover thanks to supportive care.

Possible vaccines and some specific drug treatments are under investigation. They are being tested through clinical trials.

The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 are to frequently clean your hands, cover your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue, and maintain a distance of at least 1  meter (3 feet) from people who are coughing or sneezing.

Is COVID-19 the same as SARS? 

No. The virus that causes COVID-19 and the one that caused the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 are related to each other genetically, but the diseases they cause  are quite different.

SARS was more deadly but much less infectious than COVID-19. There have been no outbreaks of SARS anywhere in the world since 2003.

Should I wear mask to protect myself 

Only wear a mask if you are ill with COVID-19 symptoms (especially coughing) or looking after someone who may have COVID-19. Disposable face mask can only be used once. If you are not ill or looking after someone who is ill then you are wasting a mask. There is a world-wide shortage of masks, so We urge people to use masks wisely.

We advises rational use of medical masks to avoid unnecessary wastage of precious resources and mis-use of masks The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 are to frequently clean your hands, cover your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue and maintain a distance of at least 1 meter (3 feet) from people who are coughing or sneezing. 

How to put on use take off and dispose of a mask? 

  1. Remember, a mask should only be used by health workers, care takers, and individuals with respiratory symptoms, such as fever and cough.
  2. Before touching the mask, clean hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water .
  3. Take the mask and inspect it for tears or holes.
  4. Orient which side is the top side (where the metal strip is).
  5. Ensure the proper side of the mask faces outwards (the  coloured side).
  6. Place the mask to your face. Pinch the metal strip or stiff edge of the mask so it moulds to the shape of your nose.
  7. Pull down the mask’s bottom so it covers your mouth and your chin.
  8. After use, take off the mask; remove the elastic loops from behind the ears while keeping the mask away from your face  and clothes, to avoid touching potentially contaminated surfaces of the mask.
  9. Discard the mask in a closed bin immediately after use.
  10. Perform hand hygiene after touching or discarding the mask – Use alcohol-based hand rub or, if visibly soiled, wash your hands with soap and water.

How long is the incubation period for COVID-19? 

The “incubation period” means the time between catching the virus and beginning to have symptoms of the disease. Most estimates of  the incubation period for COVID-19 range from 1-14 days, most commonly around five days. These estimates will be updated as more data become available.

Can humans become infected with the COVID-19 from an animal source?

Corona viruses are a large family of viruses that are common in animals. Occasionally, people get infected with these viruses which may then spread to other people. For example, SARS-CoV was associated with civet cats and MERS-CoV is transmitted by  dromedary camels. Possible animal sources of  COVID-19 have not yet been confirmed.

To protect yourself, such as when visiting live animal markets, avoid direct contact with animals and surfaces in contact with animals. Ensure good food safety practices at all times. Handle raw meat, milk or animal organs with care to avoid contamination of uncooked foods and avoid consuming raw or under cooked animal products.

Can I catch COVID-19 from my pet? 

While there has been one instance of a dog being infected in Hong Kong, to date, there is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19. COVID-19 is mainly spread through droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently and thoroughly.

We continues to monitor the latest research on this and other COVID- 19 topics and will update as new findings are available.

How long does the virus survive on surfaces? 

It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other corona viruses. Studies suggest that corona viruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment). If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.

Is it safe to receive a package from any area where COVID-19 has been reported? 

Yes. The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.

Is there anything I should not do? 

The following measures ARE NOT effective against COVID-2019 and can be harmful:

  • Smoking
  • Wearing multiple masks
  • Taking antibiotics (See question 10 “Are there any medicines of therapies that can prevent or cureCOVID-19?“)

In any case, if you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing  seek medical care early to reduce the risk of developing a more severe infection and be sure to share your recent travel history with your health care provider.