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The number of Covid-19 cases has already crossed the benchmark of ten thousand cases in India and the situation is becoming worse and worse but Rajasthan, one of the states where initial Covid-19 patients were found, is doing exceptionally well in handling the situation. The Bhilwara model, one of the cities in Rajasthan, is garnering applauds throughout the world. The once called Italy of India, due to large number of Covid-19 cases, it has seen no new case since March 31, 2020.
The credit of this success in these testing times goes to the Bhilwara administration for proactively following the Triple-T method i.e. Testing, Tracing and Treatment. Strict adherence to the lockdown and social distancing guidelines and screening of more than 92% of the population of the district is the key. The same model is now being followed throughout the Rajasthan, where more than 50 million people have now been tested, to contain Covid-19 cases in the state. Also, the state has kept almost one lakh beds ready for quarantine in case the need arises. Government has also granted superannuation to the due medical staff till September, 2020. Many private sector hospitals are coming forward to help the government by lending their medical staff, equipment and beds. In short, Rajasthan is ready to fight the corona battle through Testing, Tracing and Treatment.
What is the method?
Originally, the triple-T method was the South Korean government’s policy to deal with COVID-19 which is now being applied by other countries as well because it has been proved as one of the most successful strategies hitherto. In India, Rajasthan was the first state which declared the triple-T method mandatory and resultantly, curbed the COVID-19 cases to a certain extent. The question of curiosity is what does this 3T implies. So, basically, ‘3T or triple-T’ stands for ‘Testing, Tracing and Treatment’. This technique enables the identification of the COVID-19 confirmed cases by testing, then finds the people who come in contact with the confirmed patients of COVID-19 by tracing and further provides them with the required treatment as soon as possible.
In the context of India, the triple-T is expounded and critically analyzed as follows:
- The first T stands for ‘Testing’. According to this, the corona test is the foremost step as it allows us to identify the positive cases of COVID-19. Now, the problem arises when it comes to the testing of 135 crores people which is the most difficult task. Since India doesn’t have advanced health care services like the other developed nations have, it becomes even tougher to conduct the testing of such a huge population. Also, the speed of testing is low which is why many cases have not been identified yet.
- The second T stands for ‘Tracing’. After testing the confirmed cases, the next essential step is to find the people who have met or come in contact with the COVID-19 positive patients. Moreover, this tracing has to be done within a reasonable time span to prevent the further transmission of the virus. Some people are avoiding the test, some are absconding from it, some are intentionally hiding the information regarding their contacts with the positive patients and many people are not cooperating with the government and deny getting tested. On one hand, these are very serious concerns which the government must take into consideration for better results. On the other hand, such unexpected acts seem to be very stupid and illogical because people do not understand the gravity of COVID-19 and end up risking their lives and blaming the government. So, finding no other option in such difficult times, the government has to entertain all these issues taking strict decisions in this regard. If these people are not traced on time it may lead to rapid multiplication of infected cases which will worsen the situation in India.
- The third T stands for ‘Treatment’. As soon as the people are tested for corona virus and the reports are positive, such infected people must be provided with adequate treatment for their recovery without any delay. The rest whose results are negative must not be sent back to their homes; rather they should be kept in proper isolation for some time as they are most vulnerable to the infection. It is pertinent to mention here that as of now, there is no cure of COVID-19. Therefore, proper treatment as prescribed by the doctors is the sole option.
Although, India has appreciated the ‘triple-T’ method of South Korea yet, it has not completely implemented it across the whole country. Some states like Rajasthan and Delhi have implemented this technique which has proven to be successful to a certain extent. The Bhilwara city of Rajasthan was one of the epicentres of the COVID-19 cases but with the execution of 3T policy accompanied by the Corona virus Contamination Programme and complete lockdown, the number of cases has been reduced and the situation is not as critical as it was earlier. Similarly, the Delhi government has also chalked out the ‘5T’ plan which incorporates random tests of people in hotspot areas.
Its pros and cons
Containment of virus: The biggest advantage of continuous and ruthless Testing, Tracing and Treatment is prevention of spread of covid-19. The most successful example of this method in containing the spread of this deadly virus is Bhilwara model where most of the population was tested and screened for corona virus via home testing or laboratory facilities; the diagnosed patients were traced down to look for any potential infected patients and then they were treated by roping in various private and government facilities. They also acquired many hotels and resorts for quarantine facilities, in case the needs arises.
Early detection of virus: As it is known that symptoms of Covid-19 patient can take up to 14 days to show, this method usually tends to solve the issue. As all the potentially infected people are tracked down via the already diagnosed patients, they are then screened and tested for any possible infection. This rules out the possibility that a person who has been infected, but does not show any symptoms yet, can go on to infect others with the virus and thus can be very helpful in curbing the spread of the virus.
Better treatment of the patients: As more and more people are already tested and diagnosed even before showing the actual symptoms, it is easier to cure the patients. Also, the number of equipment and medical personnel can be pre-determined in case of community transfer of virus. This way government and the medical team can analyze the situation and determine their strategy to fight off the virus beforehand.
Huge employment of resources: The Triple-T demand huge financial as well as human resources to actually work. In these times, where businesses are mostly doomed and recession is bound to creep in the economy, it is very difficult for the government to arrange so much capital which is required in testing and treatment of Covid-19 patients. Also, a lot of skilled and unskilled human resources, like medical personnel; police; administration; and sanitation workers, are needed for the successful implementation of this plan.
Exposure of medical personnel to virus: As our medical personnel are mostly working around these patients and that too without proper medical gear, they are most likely to be affected by the virus. Everyday some doctor or chemist is tested positive for Coronavirus. This not only cost us some precious lives, but it also makes containment of the virus difficult due to fear of wider spread of the virus.
Fear of community spread: As medical personnel who treat the patients; the sanitation workers who are exposed to a lot of waste; administration that conducts tracing and testing; and the police that maintains discipline in the times of quarantine, are most likely to be affected by this deadly virus. They are the people who are not only exposed to this virus, but they also come in frequent contact with the normal masses in course of performing their functions. This can also translate into community outbreak of the virus and can further worsen the situation. In a recent case, a canteen worker of a hospital in Jaipur was tested positive, due to which thousands of people were exposed to this virus and almost 26,000 people were tested for any possible transmission of the virus.
Other methods of dealing with COVID-19
- Lockdown: Everyone across India is witnessing the lockdown since the past few weeks. Even though this method is not an enduring solution to the COVID-19 crisis, yet, it has proven to be a good initiative in controlling the expeditious proliferation of the infection. The quick decision of complete lockdown which was taken by the central government is appreciated worldwide. This method has its own gains and losses. India has not waited for positive case numbers to rise to take the decision of lockdown rather when a few cases were detected in India, the lockdown was imposed due to which the situation is still in the hands. The countries which have not imposed a complete lockdown on time have suffered and are still suffering a lot of destruction. India has set up an example in front of the world by prioritizing the lives of the people above all. But, this isn’t the ultimate solution to the problem. The government must invest this lockdown time in prospecting the ways to gradually lift up the lockdown and to decide the post-lockdown strategies.
- Rapid Testing: It is widely acknowledged that mass testing is the only formula to solve the problem of COVID-19 and India is nowhere in the game. In a country with such a large population, there is a greater probability of overnight multiplication of the infected cases. Therefore, to reduce this probability, rapid testing plays a very significant role followed by a proper quarantine. Lockdown cannot vanquish the corona virus, it can just halt it for a while and as soon as we will come out, the virus will attack again. On the contrary, expeditious mass testing, starting from lower-level like villages and districts, is the only weapon to defeat corona virus. At present, India neither has a rapid testing rate nor rapid testing kits. The government should put more emphasis on rapid mass testing and arrange rapid testing kits and other necessary medication as per the requirement.
- 5T Plan: This method is very much similar to the ‘triple-T’ policy which was formulated by the Delhi Government when there was a sudden increment in the number of positive cases of COVID-19 in Delhi due to Tablighi Markaz gathering. This method constitutes 5 T’s which stands for ‘Testing’, ‘Tracing’, ‘Treatment’, ‘Teamwork’ and ‘Tracking’. The first three Ts denote the same concepts as given in the ‘triple-T or 3T’ method. However, two more Ts are added in this plan which are elucidated as follows:
- The fourth T stands for ‘Teamwork’. There is a saying that no war can be won alone and so applies in the war against COVID-19. A team is required which has proper plans and strategies accompanied by ways of its implementation with proper equipment. In the battle against COVID-19, all the governments whether opposition or ruling party and people act as a team. The doctors, nurses and the police force are the indispensable part of this team. Without them, this battle cannot be won.
- The fifth T stands for ‘Tracking and Monitoring’. This is the last stage of the plan which includes the monitoring and tracking of all the earlier 4T’s. This is more like supervision on the working of the ‘Testing’, ‘Tracing’, ‘Treatment’ and ‘Teamwork’.
- Regular sanitization and disinfection of hotspot areas: Covid-19 hotspots are the areas where there are many covid-19 cases at the present and also have the potential for wider spread. These areas have to be regularly disinfected and sanitized to kill the entire existing virus in these areas if any. This attempts to rule out any possibility of potential spread of the virus.
It can be concluded that the ‘triple-T or 3T’ method which stands for testing, tracing and treatment is a very efficacious policy to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. Like the other methods, this method possesses its own merits and demerits. As far as its applicability in India is concerned, Rajasthan has already declared this technique mandatory in its territory which has given a satisfactory outcome. Indirectly, this method is already in practice in India but not with some specified name. With a gigantic population and paucity in advanced medical technology, it is strenuous for India to nationwide implement the ‘triple-T method’ altogether.
Apart from triple-T policy, there are several other ways to combat COVID-19 pandemic like lockdown, mass testing and 5T plan. The central and the state governments are trying their damnedest to curb this infection at the earliest. We, as the law abiding citizens of India, must comprehend the seriousness of the COVID-19 contagion and fulfill our duties towards the nation, fellow countrymen and mankind by cooperating with the governments in every possible way.
Authors: Divyani Saldi from RGNUL, Patiala, Punjab and Neha Gururani from School of Law, Maharaja Agrasen Institute of Management Studies, GGSIPU, Delhi.
Editor: Arya Mittal from Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur.