Caution must on Corona

Kashmir Times. Dated: 6/25/2020 12:29:06 AM

Different states in India have tackled the pandemic differently, but they must learn from each other for better patient care

The number of Coronavirus cases crossed the grim milestone of 4,00,000 on June 20, a month after 1,00,000 Covid cases were reported and the number is going up as the number of tests is increased by the healthcare authorities. If it took 13 days to double to 2,00,000 cases, there was an addition of another one lakh cases in 10 days on June 21, showing a wider spread in the community. The rate of cases testing positive of 4.6 percent in mid-May has increased to 7.9 percent on June 21, indicating a hike and spread in the community particularly in the hotspots of Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Chennai. This trend is worrisome in view of the spread tackled by different states in a different manner with Centre showing some disregard to the states which have shown remarkable success in checking its spread. The mortality rate which has been low has now shown an upward spike that has been steady in most parts of the country. It is on record that the first death was perhaps reported on March 13 last and the figure crossed 1,000 on April 28. Now it has taken just three days for each additional 1,000 deaths after the toll reached 4,000 to increase to 13,703 death on June 21. The lower mortality figures are a reflection of the low median age (nearly 27 years) of the Indian population, the stage of the pandemic in India, health-seeking behaviour and the health-care system. While the low median age has helped keep mortality rate low, high prevalence of high-risk factors even among younger people might put them at great risk if infected with the virus. With the health-care system in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Ahmedabad, already strained to the maximum, the metropolitan cities could witness higher number of deaths if the virus continues to spread. With India now in the unlock phase, this is the time to be most vigilant and cautious in tackling the spread of the pandemic by increasing the medical-care facilities in all the hotspots.
It is to be noted with seriousness that Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh have done exceptionally well in containment. If Kerala was fully geared even before the first case was reported, the other two states utilised the early phase of the lockdown to track, test and isolate those infected and trace contacts. Nothing else can explain why Bengaluru has arrested the trend while Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai have become Coronavirus epicentres. Maharashtra has appreciably adopted the correct approach of enhanced testing unmindful of the large number of cases being reported with each passing day. Aggressive testing enabled in Maharashtra helped the government to achieve the remarkable feat of containment in Dharavi, the largest slum area in the country and perhaps the world. In contrast, till a few days ago, Delhi had used every trick available to it to keep cases and deaths low. That fewer cases are reported from Telangana, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar raises suspicion about their testing and counting. Many states have reported migrant workers testing positive on arrival, it is understandable that Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal, which have recorded the most returnees, should not see increased number of cases. Through fever clinics and testing of people with influenza-like illness in certain areas in Chennai that have high spread, Tamil Nadu is making up for lost time. That could be the reason that Tamil Nadu had to go in for another lockdown after the Centre left the decision making on this issue to the states. But true containment will remain difficult and will depend on door-to-door survey and large-scale testing in these areas. Going by the cases reported, Gujarat seems to be the only place where the virus spreads to a definite number of people every fortnight even when tests are increased. The only way to contain numbers is by not hiding them but by aggressive testing that has been followed as a key to control the spread of virus and provide required healthcare facilities to the patients in real time.



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