On April 25, the celebrations in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar district suddenly came to a halt. Just a day before, the district had, along with 12 others in the country, received kudos for having no new infections in the past 28 days. But now there was a new case, a 25-year-old trucker in Boothgarh village who had returned from Jammu.
The district is in the heart of Punjab’s Doaba belt which has NRIs across the world, and till now tracking them had been the problem. “We had a database of 4,400-odd NRIs. It was impossible to quarantine them all,” says Bublani. So they were monitored on a daily basis. If symptoms were found, the registered respiratory therapists (RRT) were assigned to test them further. Simultaneously, 45,000 people in 25 villages were isolated. “We geographically tagged affected areas, sealed the villages in the containment plan,” he says.
After the lockdown, the administration devised a system to identify symptomatic persons. “Every flu-like symptom was reported back, and it was followed by a visit of the RRT,” he says. These reports were reviewed twice a day by the district committee. The district had not seen a new coronavirus patient since March 26. Now Bublani’s team has started all over again with a “foolproof” door-to-door screening plan in Boothgarh village.