In the first first phase, the ANMs will cover the COVID-19 hotspots as part of an initiative launched by the Amritsar Municipal Corporation. (Photo by Prashant Nadkar/Representational Photo)
Beginning Sunday, a group of auxiliary nursing midwives (ANMs) will carry out a door-to-door survey and screening of people in the densely populated areas of Amritsar in a move that is aimed at checking any possible community spread of novel coronavirus.
In the first first phase, the ANMs will cover the COVID-19 hotspots as part of an initiative launched by the Amritsar Municipal Corporation.
The survey is going to be one of the toughest with each ANM told to cover 50 houses everyday to meet the target of 11,000 houses in three days. A total 88 ANMs will be deployed for the survey.
While the first phase, which will cover hotspots, will be physical screening, the next phase will be tele-screening.
In the last two weeks, three COVID-19 cases have been reported from densely populated areas of the city where the source of infection has not yet been confirmed.
ANMs have been instructed not eat or drink anything during the time they conduct survey. They have been also asked to not use washroom during this period. One ANM will have to spend four to six hours in field to complete the survey of 50 homes on one day.
They will not only have to protect themselves from getting infected during the survey but also have to avoid becoming carrier of the virus.
“After putting on the Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), we will have to complete the target of 50 houses before disposing it off. We cannot eat or drink or go to washroom before finishing the target. We will get a new kit everyday,” said Tripta, president, ANM Union, Amritsar.
She said, “We have each been been given a stick with which we will knock at the doors. We have been told not to press the doorbell or touch the door for knocking. We will ask for the travel history and other required information during the survey. We ourselves we will not check the temperature of the any suspected patient. In such case, we will make a call to a rapid action team”.
ANMs had demanded N95 masks, but authorities have given then the surgical masks.
“We have asked the ANMs to buy their own N95 mask to complete the survey. Otherwise they can put on two masks to avoid exposure,” said Tripta.
She said that ANMs haven’t given any assurance for the extra payment for this assignment. “Around 50 per cent of the ANMs in the district are employed on contract basis and have a maximum salary of Rs 12,000 per month,” said Tripta
Health authorities are expecting to cover 50,000 citizens during first phase of physical screening. “Our main concern is that the virus should not spread through health workers,” said a health official.
“All the health workers will be provided with PPE kits, masks and gloves for door to door physical screening. They will be safe,” said another official.
Amritsar mayor Karamjit Singh Rintu held a meeting with health department officials Thursday, where it was decided that ANMs will be deployed for physical screening. Sources said ANMs will be at the forefront of screening along with doctors. However, it was not confirmed if all ANMs would be joined by doctors as it would also depend on their availability.
“In first phase, we are going to screen 50,000 homes. We have narrowed down the areas from where cases have been reported. The area around Sultanwid and Krishnanagar will be focus of the first phase. We want to complete this screening of first phase within 4-5 working days. Screening will possibly start from day after tomorrow,” said Rintu.
He added, “Temperature will be checked during physical screening and health workers will also be inquiring about symptoms. If anybody is found to have symptoms, we will go for tests. We have been in negotiations to get maximum test kits for the city, so that we can immediately test suspected cases.”
The civic body and the health department are also considering limiting physical screening to the first phase only and plan do tele-screening for the rest.
“In the next phase, authorities plan to go for tele-screening. It will lower the risk of health workers becoming carriers. We have been collecting data to go for tele-screening. We will contact families through video conferencing so we can ask them if they have any symptoms. It will also help us to educate people more about the virus and how to avoid getting infected,” said a health official.
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