Coronavirus | It’s no time to lower guard, warn experts

A health worker wearing PPE collects samples from a person in Aminjikarai, Chennai on August 16, 2020.   | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a challenge and this is a long-drawn battle to be fought by each one of us, warned V.K. Paul, member of the Central government’s COVID-19 response team, on Sunday, speaking exclusively to The Hindu.

The cautionary statement comes at a time when the country has registered an accelerating case and fatality rate, with 12 States registering over 55,000 positive cases.

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Dr. Paul, also member NITI Aayog, said: “This is no time to lower our guard. Follow safe behaviour every moment, every time. India has done well so far despite such a large population. Our ability to fight this battle is stronger than ever now.’’

India registered its first death due to the virus on March 13 and registered its first 25,000 virus-related deaths by July 16. The next 25,000 deaths have been reported within a month now.

“India’s large population is fodder for the virus. What we have understood till now is that it cannot be controlled, stopped or prevented. All we can do is to slow the spread. India is moving rapidly to its peak viral load,’’ said T. Jacob John, virologist and former professor at the Christian Medical College, Vellore.

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He said always wearing a mask, following proper hygiene and ensuring measured, small scale and effective lockdowns is our only way forward.

“The speed of growth of epidemic depends partly on how many importations occurred. We had probably too few compared to US and Brazil. Wait and we will surpass both countries,” added Dr. Jacob John.

Spread by asymptomatic patients cause of worry

“Sleuth infection growth [spread by asymptomatic patients] is a cause of worry. The pandemic seems to be following the same path that we saw with 2009 pandemic influenza. It is travelling from large cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad to small cities etc. But the two advantages that India has is the fact that the country has a relatively young population and the small portion of people who seem to have ‘hidden protection’. World over 100% people aren’t getting it and the trend is evident in India also,’’ he said.

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He said the vaccine will come when it will. “We have to strengthen lockdown measures and ensure that all human interactions are undertaken wearing a mask.’’

The Health Ministry, on Sunday, said India is registering a sharply falling case fatality rate which is one of the lowest across the world.

“Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Delhi, West Bengal, Bihar, U.P., Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat and Telangana have the maximum caseload. The case fatality rate stands at 1.93% and while the U.S. crossed 50,000 deaths in 23 days, Brazil in 95 days and Mexico in 141 days, India took 156 days to reach this national figure,’’ it said.

It said India is now rapidly moving towards completing 3 crore COVID-19 tests. “2,93,09,703 samples tested so far and 7,46,608 tests were done in the last 24 hours. The national network of diagnostic labs comprises 969 labs in the government sector and 500 private labs, adding to 1,469. Real-Time RT PCR based testing is being done by 754 labs, TrueNat based testing by 598 labs and CBNAAT by 117 labs across India,’’ said the Ministry.

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 11:35:32 AM |

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