The government will adopt a top-to-bottom approach for geographical mapping, monitoring and isolation of cities and districts worst hit by the coronavirus outbreak.
The COVID-19 containment plan was spelt out today during a two-hour video call between Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba and municipal commissioners and district magistrates of 13 cities, including Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Delhi.
"Measures taken by officials of municipal corporations of these 13 cities to contain spread of virus was discussed," a senior government functionary told NDTV.
Today's meeting was significant because the 13 cities involved have reported around 70 per cent of the nation's novel coronavirus cases so far; Mumbai alone has nearly 34,000 cases while Delhi crossed the 15,000-case mark on Wednesday.
According to the government official who spoke to NDTV, the centre has stressed containment zones' geographical boundaries must be based on factors like mapping of cases and contact-tracing of COVID-19 patients and their dispersion.
"This will enable demarcation of well-defined perimeter and (help in) enforcing strict lockdown protocols," the government official added.
In the fourth phase of the lockdown, which came into effect on May 18, states had been allowed to designate "red", "orange" and "green" zones in their territories, based on spread of the virus in each area. District-level officials will decide containment and buffer zone boundaries, the centre added.
Now, the centre is pushing for definition of containment zones to be based on mapping and dispersion of cases and contacts. Entire towns, municipal corporations or wards or residential colonies can be designated as a "containment zone", the centre said.
However, state government officials have been advised that such areas must be defined on basis of technical inputs from the ground level.
Today's meeting also comes amid a worrying rise in the number of cases. On Wednesday India crossed the 1.5 lakh-mark and, according to data this morning, the country has reported over 6,000 new cases in a 24-hour period for the seventh consecutive day.
The government also discussed details about its lockdown exit strategy during today's meeting; the fourth phase of a nationwide shutdown, ordered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in March to break the coronavirus chain of transmission, ends May 31.
The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has been busy reviewing the entire lockdown period to decide on the way forward from June 1.