by The Welthi Bureau | 31st March, 2020
Having nearly three-fourths of the world population in its grip, coronavirus is wreaking havoc on earth. The virus, which was found to be spreading through contact mainly more than any medium, has forced more than 100 countries to go under lockdown, including India where the density of population is more.
In such a condition, Welthi spoke to Dr Bhaskar Rao, Director, KIMS, Hyderabad to know if the measures taken by the government are sufficient to tackle the deadly virus.
Welthi: Do you think lockdown will help India eliminate the virus?
Dr Bhaskar Rao: Lockdown will bear fruit only if implemented strictly. We are hearing that the government is planning to give e-passes to those discharging essential services. It is a good idea but their issuance should be made online to prevent people jostling in limited space to collect them.
The government should be able to implement strict measures to identify and quarantine those identified with the virus, even after the lockdown is lifted. The government has chalked out a plan for one incubation cycle of the virus, a fortnight. In case, a person catches the infection while the lockdown period is nearing to end, it will take 14 more days for he/she to show the symptoms by which time the person might begin getting in contact with more people and this would mean more trouble in store for the authorities. Now, with new findings that the virus exists in the body for eight days even after the patients test negative for Covid-19, the government has to be extra cautious. Hence, the government should be able to put measures in place for the next couple of months even after lifting the lockdown.
Based on the experiences of the countries which are already facing the heat of the coronavirus and some scientific findings, the doctors have been trying to extend all possible help to the patients. We need to evaluate the deaths in other countries and understand who are vulnerable to the virus. The doctors should try to understand if those dead died only due to the virus or due to some other pre-existing medical conditions.
Welthi: What are the other aspects on which India should focus to contain the spread of the virus?
Dr Bhaskar Rao: Many people in the country might not be aware that they have the virus due to the low number of tests being performed. The more the people are tested, we can speak about the numbers confidently.
We should be able to ramp up our capacity to test the patients and extend the quarantine period up to a month. Once this is done, we will be able to flatten the curve of Covid-19. Patients need not fear because all those affected will not die. The fatality rate is only 5-10 per cent.
Lockdown was imposed as a precautionary measure but once the restriction orders are lifted, there is no assurance that the number of Covid-19 cases is zero. There might be people still carrying the virus and who can transmit the disease to others.
The government should have the facilities to quarantine at least 2-3 crore people as we have a lot of population. Quarantine centres need not be necessarily in hospitals, they can set up the wards in colleges, hotels, hostels and guest houses. Cramming people in limited space does not serve the purpose.
When compared to other countries, India is better to have woken up early and taking precautionary measures but there should be stricter implementation of the steps to check the spread of the virus effectively. In fact, the government should have declared the lockdown much earlier. All the foreign returnees should have been quarantined for a month or two at different places and that could have resolved many issues.
Welthi: Is vaccine the only solution to coronavirus?
Dr Bhaskar Rao: The routine way to get a vaccine take 3-4 years as it has to be tested on animals and humans according to a specified procedure. However, we are able to understand that the scientists have cut down on testing the vaccine on animals with humans voluntarily offering themselves for the trials of vaccine.
It is not necessary that vaccine alone should be readied to check the spread of the virus. Even tuberculosis is a contagious disease that spreads in the same way coronavirus does. However, by administering antibiotics we could check the tuberculosis virus but even then, there are deaths being registered due to TB. In the case of coronavirus too, we should be able to take proper precautions to trace, test and treat the patients.
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