Dr Ehtesham Waquarib has donned many a hat in his career. The 34-year-old Indian Police Officer (IPS), before donning his olive uniform used to work as a doctor in Community Medicine with the World Health Organization (WHO). At a time when India is facing the challenge to combat Covid-19 like the rest of the world, IPS Dr Waquarib has come forward with a 60-day plan for his district – East Singhbhum to take on the highly contagious coronavirus in Jharkhand’s most industrialized belt. The 2015 batch IPS, an AMU alumni took out time from his busy schedule as the SP Jamshedpur (GRP) to answer some pertinent questions for our readers, in an email interview with eNewsroom:
Q: What’s the master plan designed by you? How will it help to fight Corona Virus threat?
A: I am leading the containment-cum-surveillance team of East Singbhum. I meet doctors, magistrates and police officials of this area, with the intention of bettering the coordination among them, to tackle Covid-19 pandemic in a better way.
The team comprising over 1000 members, does not only work for the containment and surveillance of Covid-19. They have also been taught and counselled on a daily basis to increase public participation.
In the past, I have worked as a doctor in Community Medicine. This experience, has helped me in preparing a road map of next 60 days. My study of MBBS and MD has helped me in understanding the epidemiology of Covid-19.
We have applied this knowledge to procure items to well equip East Singhbhum’s Sadar hospitals, Community Health Center (CHC)s and Primary Health Center (PHC)s. We have also roped in private hospitals to ease the pressure on government hospitals.
Even minor details like – preparing duty rosters for doctors for better efficiency, making arrangements for more beds, assessing the number of ICU and ventilators that will be needed, is being noted. A detailed report on the number of Viral Transmission Media (VTM)s, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)s, gloves masks, pulse and oximeters among others will be needed, is being prepared.
We are facilitating training of healthcare professionals and technicians so that they can protect themselves when treating patients with Covid-19. It is our top most priority, as we are seeing that healers are the most affected by the contagious virus.
We are using Telemedicine to reach remote areas of Jharkhand, thereby enabling people to directly interact with doctors as well as specialists. This has cut down unnecessary visits to medical centres in the time of social distancing which lessen the burden on doctors and patients too. We have also introduced a helpline number for psychological counseling.
Disinfection chambers have also been set up at hospitals for medical staffs and for other essential services staffs.
Mobile sample collection booths have been initiated to reach far-flung areas. It will decrease risk posed to both health care persons and public at large.
We are also isolating districts to map the possible hotspots. My active surveillance team members are conducting door-to-door screening. We have also begun an aggressive contact tracing campaign to identify those affected and have them sent to the quarantine centre.
Q: Who will be covered in this plan?
A: I lead the containment-cum-surveillance team of district East Singhbhum (Jamshedpur) of Jharkhand which has a 23 lakh population- roughly the size of Australia. This population comprises both urban and rural folks. It’s one of the most industrialised area of Jharkhand.
Q: How you are implementing these plans? Are you satisfied from the plan?
A: I am taking regular meetings with the members to daily monitor surveillance teams.
The teams under SP Jamshedpur (GRP) consists of mainly ADM Law & Order, Civil Surgeon and District Surveillance Officer and all administrative officers (BDO, CO, Ex-Magistrate and Medical officers) are by default working for this.
We have also engaged professors and students of XLRI Jamshedpur to train our surveillance workers. They are of really great help in our endeavour.
There is also a reward system for the better performing teams.
All the travelers from other Indian states using station footfalls in last few days before lockdown were made to undergo institutional quarantine or home quarantine on the basis of thermal scanner and checklists put at railway stations. Regular follow up is being done by making phone calls twice a day. In case of any SOS our medical team immediately rushes to the spot.
Data of foreign travelers in the last 3 months is being scrutinized, house to house tracing, advising home quarantine, isolating and sampling of those who are fulfilling ICMR guideline.
Thousands of ground workers are working on the field, doing active surveillance and 100 lab technicians are ready to collect samples throughout the district.
Our borders are perfectly sealed and police is continuously keeping a tab on people coming in or going out of Jharkhand. All medical emergency and essential items have been provided for the border area.
Models and dashboards have been made to track the work done as well performance of such a large army of ground workers.
Till April 18, we have collected and tested over 400 samples as per ICMR guidelines. The results were negative.
No positive case in East Singhbhum in last 28 days. On the way to be declared ‘Green Zone’.
I am very much satisfied with our team work.
Q: Is it funded by Railway or in association with state and central government?
A: No it’s not funded by the railway. I am voluntarily giving my service to my place of positing and my home state Jharkhand. But whatever, I am doing is in association with the state government.
Q: Do you have any specific plan to deal with migrant workers?
A: The issue of migrant workers is being looked after by district administration itself.
Q: Apart from Railway coaches prepared as quarantine centre in what other ways do you think Railway can help to fight from the Corona threat?
A: Railways is successfully providing movement of essential goods throughout the country when all mode of transport have completely come to a halt, it’s truly the lifeline of our country.
Salute to such Covid-19 warriors!