It is high time our authorities realise that the solution to coronavirus is not medical, but administrative. It has been apparent from the beginning that it may take years before a vaccine or medicine can be available (if at all). It has also been apparent that 80–90% of the people infected by the virus need no medical attention and recover by themselves. Medical science has nothing to offer them even if they stayed in hospitals. So, it makes very little sense to subject our medical professionals to repeated exposure of the virus several times a day and risk their lives. It takes a lot of effort and resources to train a medic and they should be protected.
Therefore, governments need to establish isolation centres in various buildings that are not currently in use (community centres, convention centres, hotels, sports hostels etc). Such establishments should be equipped with adequate beds, bathrooms, drinking water, arrangements for laundry, electricity, WiFi/internet, some means of entertainment like TV, board games and if possible, space for exercise. Food and essential supplies can be delivered in a designated area every day and the inmates themselves should manage it upon delivery. All work inside the centre must be done by the inmates themselves on a roster basis. For example, people spending their 4th to 6th day could be responsible for cleaning the dormitories, bathrooms and shared areas, those spending their 7th to 9th day could be responsible for distribution of food and cleaning of dishes, 10th to 12th day inmates could do laundry and replacement of bed linen/towels and so on. 13–15 day inmates could be given rudimentary training in taking nasal swabs, operating test kits and such administrative functions. At the end of a 15-day isolation and upon getting a negative test, some inmates could stay on for 5 more days on volunteer/roster basis to help do administrative functions in the centre. It should be possible to set up a separate and secluded testing room near the patient entry which could be mostly managed by recovered inmates with minimal expert guidance. The exit and administrative area should be separate through which food and supplies should also be delivered without contact. Friends and family of inmates should be allowed to leave clothes and personal items for them which could be collected without contact. If any inmates develop any complications, they can be shifted to a designated hospital. The entire facility including food and supplies should be paid for by the inmates which could be subsidised if required.
Such Integrated Covid Centres should be suitable enough for WFH for those who can work remotely. Supply of food to each centre can be outsourced to restaurants and hotels who will get to operate their kitchens and earn some revenue. If a hotel building is used as a Covid Centre, their owners would also start to earn from it. If medical science is not able to invent any medicine or vaccine for the coronavirus, these Covid Centres will become an integral part of our society. There is a strong likelihood for such a future. So, it will be crucial to make them adequately equipped, self-managed and self-funded. Govt and NGOs can also step in to utilise these 15 days as detoxication periods through regulating food. Inmates could also be given a short course in yoga, HIIT etc by broadcasting instructions remotely on the TV screens placed inside.
Labour practices would also require modification to allow for 2 such isolation periods for each employee every year, assuming that a recovered person remains immune for about 6 months before being susceptible to infection again. This period could be less or more which we shall discover in the coming months. Also, most businesses will have to employ additional manpower to cater for redundancies that arise from their personnel going in periodic isolation. This would actually be helpful in generating more employment in certain sectors and would somewhat offset the loss of jobs in other areas.
All in all, the more we integrate covid response in our lives, the easier it will be to continue with our existence.
Originally published at https://salilshukla.wordpress.com on May 28, 2020.