The Union Health Ministry on Wednesday highlighted the role of frontline workers in tackling COVID-19, saying they must spread key messages in the community about measures to prevent the disease and help in early detection of suspected cases.
Outlining their role, the ministry said that a community worker may be asked to prepare a line list of all people who have travelled to other countries or other states inside India in last 14 days, share their names with a medical officer at a primary health care but not with others and teach them home quarantine.
They can tell them to monitor themselves for symptoms of coronavirus and call a helpline number for COVID-19 to inform them about it, the ministry said.
It has asked them to take all preventive measures in the community such as keeping safe distance, washing hands frequently, including before and after home visits.
"If you are visiting or accompanying a suspected case to any health facility, make sure to cover both your mouth and nose with folded cloth or mask. If you are conducting community meetings or supporting outreach sessions the groups should not be larger than 10-12 people," the ministry directed.
It also listed instructions for a person being home quarantined, which includes staying in a separate room, if possible with an attached or a separate toilet, maintaining a distance of at least 1 meter from others and wearing a mask at all times.
"If masks are not available, take a clean cotton cloth, fold it into a double layer and tie it on your face to cover your nose and mouth, use separate dishes, towels, bedding, which should be cleaned separately.
"The surfaces of floor, table tops, chairs, door handles should be cleaned at least once a day and make sure that only one assigned family member is the caretaker," the ministry said.
Giving out instructions for frontline workers to take care of themselves while on duty, it said they must ensure that they continue to undertake tasks related to care of pregnant women, newborns and sick children, post natal care, breastfeeding and nutritional counselling, TB and NCD patient follow-up while taking preventive measures.
It reminded the workers that older people are at higher risk "so take special care to visit homes of elderly".
"Continue to pay special attention to marginalised as is your routine practice. Also, as the people's trusted health worker, try to reassure them that while those with symptoms and high risk need close attention, for others, prevention measures will decrease the risk of getting the disease," the ministry said.
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