Published: 20th July 2020
A novel panacea for a pandemic in urban areas: An isolation modelling approach
The criticality of this solution is the fact that without strict isolation in place and having just intermittent curfew, it would be experiencing a sine curve activity of cases decreasing temporarily
The COVID-19 has been wreaking havoc all over the world with over 10 million confirmed cases and it is now spreading more in lower-income settlements and slum areas. The slums are urban areas characterized by substandard housing, overcrowding, unsanitary conditions and lack of services. The slums are the most vulnerable places for COVID-19 pandemic spread due to its high rate of population. Existing measures to curb spreading of the virus have been heavily centred around hygiene and social distancing. The sanitation facilities, hygiene in general and social distancing are closer to impossible in slums. Since most people in the slums rely on daily wages for their survival, going to work is a necessity, but their travel over long distances in vehicles filled with more than their capacities are perfect vectors for disease.
The criticality of this solution is the fact that without strict isolation in place and having just intermittent curfew, it would be experiencing a sine curve activity of cases decreasing temporarily and increasing once people get together. Since contact tracing is next to impossible and there is a fear among the slum population towards the government authorities and health professionals, who are also reluctant to enter such infectious zones, a solution involving complete isolation is absolutely necessary. The studies have shown that containment is possible with the isolation of communities coupled with other strategies like awareness creation, effective social distancing, etc.
The solution is proposed as a model where a fraction of the population living in the slums are relocated to Corona Containment Camps (C3) and placed in isolation. The proposed isolation based model (IsoM) is established with a focus on reducing the reproductive ratio (R0) of epidemic novel Covid-19 spread in slums. The slum consists of two categories of people; people in essential service (Pe) and people in non-essential service (Pne). In the global view, the ratio is ranged from 20-30% to 70-80% for people in essential services to non-essential services.
The proposed IsoMmodel has been designed to study the impact of isolation in slums to control the spread of COVID-19. The people in the slum are categorized into two categories as people in essential and non-essential services. The people in slums are identified as Susceptible(S) - People in slums who has not yet infected and disease-free; Exposed (E) – People people in slums who are experiencing incubation duration; Infections(I) – People in slums who has infected; Removed (R)- People in slums who had infected and recovered.
The people in slum are grouped into four groups; α-group, β-group, γ-group and δ-group over the category of services. The α group people are the essentials workers but no susceptible, exposed, removed, Infected people are included; they can continue to stay in the slums distantly, to ensure the essential service to the society. The β group people are the non-essential workers including the susceptible and exposed essentials workers; they are to be moved away to the isolated areas includes Apartments, Hotels, Corona Containment Camps (C3) for further testing and observation. The γ group of people are the recovered people; they are to be stayed away from the slums for observation and they can come back to the isolated area after their incubation period. The δ group of people are infected people; they are are to be isolated and admitted for treatment immediately.
The armed forces can be deployed to establish Corona Containment Camps (C3) and the associated services. The service of the armed forces can be used for evacuating people from slums to Corona Containment Camps; transporting medicine / medical instruments / medical staffs; food distribution; ensuring the social distancing and hygiene among the people in Corona Containment Camps. The service of the local police personal, local government authorities and NGOs can be used along with armed forces for effective coordination. An effective waste disposal mechanism and sanitation facilities are also to be carried out in the Corona Containment Camps thereby slowing spread further. Testing people for the virus from time to time is also crucial and every individual in a pocket with even one case should be tested to be informed and take necessary preventive measures to curb spreading. The IsoMmodel would require funding from the government to facilitate temporary housing which in fact can be considered for permanent settlement in future and other basic amenities in the located area.
The mathematical experiments are carried out for the testing rate of 1.2%, 1.5%, 1.8% of total people at group-β. The results proved that the proposed model yielded a better performance on reducing Reproductive Ratio (R0)and the Covid-19 pandemic. It is proved that the Covid-19 in slum shall be controlled by 62 days, 52 days and 46 days for the testing rate is 1.2%, 1.5%, 1.8% of total people at group-β respectively.
The authors of this article are Ashok Verghese, SheebaChander, SudalaiMuthu T from Hindustan Institute of Technology and Science, Chennai, India.