East Delhi’s Dilshad Garden, which had been identified as one of the 10 hotspots in the country last month, was Friday declared “coronavirus-free” by the Delhi government, which said no new case had been reported in the area for the past 10 days.
The area had emerged as a hotspot after a 38-year-old woman, who had returned to Delhi from Saudi Arabia, tested positive for COVID-19 and was eventually linked to several others, including a mohalla clinic doctor, testing positive. Late last month, most parts of the area were completely sealed off, much like the 26 ‘containment zones’ in the Capital that have been sealed now. The Delhi government Thursday named the exercise ‘Operation SHIELD
“Under this operation, 123 medical teams screened more than 15,000 people living in 4,032 houses in Dilshad Garden. Thousands of people were quarantined and tests were done,” Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain said on Friday.
Jain added: “The hard work of health officials and successful implementation of the operation has made Dilshad Garden coronavirus-free.”
The woman and her 19-year-old son had gone to Saudi Arabia to meet her husband, and came back on March 10. “On March 12, she developed fever and cough and went to see a local doctor. On March 15, she was taken to GTB Hospital, from where the doctors referred her to RML Hospital. On March 17, she tested positive, and on March 18, authorities traced 81 people she had met after returning from Saudi Arabia. On March 20, her brother and mother tested positive, followed by her two daughters on March 21. The local doctor she had seen, who also works in a mohalla clinic, tested positive on March 22,” the government said in a statement.
This had prompted the authorities to put up a notice asking hundreds of people who had visited the mohalla clinic to self-quarantine.
Health officials and the district administration also had to seek help from the Delhi Police because the woman’s son was reportedly not cooperating with contact-tracing efforts.
“When the woman tested positive, we rushed to her residence to ask her family for names and addresses of people who had visited them since March 10. Her son was not cooperative, so we had to seek help from local police. We also used footage from CCTV cameras installed near their home to identify some people who needed to be put under surveillance,” said Dr S K Nayak, District Administration Officer, Shahdara, who handled the operation.
Nine of the 11 entry points to Sector L, Dilshad Garden, were sealed since most cases were reported from that area. People and vehicles were barred from leaving or entering, and announcements were made asking those who had met the woman or her family, to reach out to authorities.
During the screening of over 15,000 people, anyone who had met the family was quarantined or shifted to GTB Hospital for treatment and testing.
The screening and tracking process, however, is still not over, and the area continues to remain sealed. Once the government receives the antibody testing kits that have been ordered, it will start random testing in the area.