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As of April 15, 2020, confirmed cases of COVID-19 had crossed 10,000 in India. This infectious disease had also spread to 354-plus districts till mid-April - it has spread to more districts since then.

The Prime Minister of India announced a nation-wide lockdown on March 24, 2020, to contain the infection. The lockdown was supposed to end on April 14, 2020, but due to the rise in cases of COVID-19 infection, it was extended till May 3.

In order to contain the spread of the infection, the government has also started marking out those areas which have reported six or more cases of COVID-19 infections. These areas are being called "hotspots".

Read on to know what exactly are hotspots and why is their demarcation significant -even in a lockdown situation.

  1. What is a COVID-19 hotspot?
  2. Can people in hotspots go out to buy essentials?
  3. How many hotspots do we have in India to date?
  4. What can I do to stop my area from becoming a COVID-19 hotspot?
Doctors for COVID-19: When is an area considered a hotspot?

During the pandemic, the Indian government is declaring a geographical area a COVID-19 hotspot if it reports more than six positive cases of the infection. The demarcation is said to help in three ways:

  • Increase supervision in these areas to prevent further spread of the infection.
  • The declaration of an area as a hotspot may prevent further transmission of the deadly virus.
  • People who are active carriers of the virus might also be traced more easily in a limited geographical area.

Contact tracing is important to find people who have been exposed to a sick person, and who may now be infected themselves. By administering the proper tests, the government agencies can identify and isolate the sick, in an effort to break the chain of transmission.

The entire nation has been in lockdown since March 24, 2020, to prevent the spread of the infection. However, most people can go out of their houses to buy all the essentials needed on a daily basis. (Read more: Hygiene and preventive measures while buying essentials during the pandemic

In contrast to the nationwide lockdown, people living in hotspots are not allowed to go out - not even for essential services like medicines, groceries, trips to the ATMs, etc., as the government imposes curfew-like restrictions in such areas. 

The following are some of the provisions and support outlined for residents of hotspots by government agencies:

  • Doorstep delivery of all the basic necessities, including cooked food, groceries, vegetables and medicines. The people living in identified hotspot areas are allowed to leave their houses only in case of a medical emergency.
  • The government would ensure proper cleaning and spraying of disinfectants in the hotspot areas to minimize the effect of infection.
  • The government may test more people from the hotspot areas to identify others who may have been infected, for timely diagnosis and disease management.

Various states in India have declared a number of hotspots, depending on the number of cases they found. As of April 14, 2020, Mumbai had declared the highest number of hotspots which is 381, followed by Uttar Pradesh with 208 hotspots and then Chennai and Delhi with 70 and 47 hotspots, respectively. The number of hotspots has been increasing on a daily basis.

As of April 15, 2020, the Union health ministry had also declared 170 districts of India hotspots or red zones. The criteria for inclusion or labelling a district a hotspot is:

  • Districts which have reported a very high number of cases: these districts cumulatively comprise about 80% of case burden on their states and the country, respectively.
  • Districts where the number of cases doubles in less than four days.

The health ministry is also taking steps to slot all districts of India one of three categories:

  • Hotspot districts or red zones: With a high number of confirmed cases in a small geographical area, these areas contribute the majority of cases in their respective states. These areas can be designated orange zone when no new case is reported from there for 14 days. They may be declared green zones after no new cases for 28 consecutive days.
  • Non-hotspot: These are areas that have reported cases, but where the number of cases is low. As of 15 April, 270 districts of India had been declared non-hotspots with clusters of infection.
  • Green zones: Area where no cases have been reported, or where no fresh cases have been reported for 28 days in a row.

Every person can do their bit in preventing their area from becoming a COVID-19 hotspot. You can follow these measures to keep you and your society safe:

  • First, everyone needs to stay indoors. Work from home, spend time with your family and kids and do not send your child to play with other kids in order to prevent the spread of infection.
  • Do not let your child go to the society parks until the spread of infection settles down a bit.
  • Don't forget to practise regular hand and respiratory hygiene, which includes covering your mouth and nose with a tissue while coughing and sneezing, washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, using an alcohol-based sanitizer in case you don't have access to soap and water. Washing your hands or using alcohol-based hand rub would kill the viruses that may be present on your hands. (Read more: The right way to wash your hands)
  • Maintain physical distancing. Stay at a distance of least 1 metre (3 feet) from anyone who is coughing or sneezing as they can spread the virus through their infectious droplets. (Read more: What is droplet transmission?)
  • Clean your surroundings and high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs or switches with a disinfectant regularly.
  • Wash all the vegetables and fruits with warm water before consuming them. Scrub each piece individually and dry them with a paper towel before storing.
  • Cook your meals properly before eating. Avoid raw food, especially raw meat. 
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose and mouth frequently as your hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once they get contaminated, they can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth, thus making you sick. (Read more: How to stop touching your face to avoid infections)
  • If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, call your nearest hospital and ask for medical advice. Calling would allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility and would help you prevent the spread of virus amongst others.

Read more: What to do if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in your society or your building

Dr. Arun R

Dr. Arun R

Infectious Disease
5 Years of Experience

Dr. Neha Gupta

Dr. Neha Gupta

Infectious Disease
16 Years of Experience

Dr. Lalit Shishara

Dr. Lalit Shishara

Infectious Disease
8 Years of Experience

Dr. Alok Mishra

Dr. Alok Mishra

Infectious Disease
5 Years of Experience


Medicines / Products that contain COVID-19: When is an area considered a hotspot?

References

  1. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Govt. of India. Detail Question and Answers on COVID-19 for Public. [Internet]