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Lessons for India to learn from U.K., says expert

Dr. Vivek Rajagopal, a clinical director for general medicine, attached to National Health Services (NHS) Foundation Trust, at the 10 Downing Street in London in 2019

Dr. Vivek Rajagopal, a clinical director for general medicine, attached to National Health Services (NHS) Foundation Trust, at the 10 Downing Street in London in 2019   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Lockdown saved thousands of lives, says expert

India has relevant lessons to learn from the United Kingdom which is bracing for a surge of COVID-19 cases despite the efforts of the government to combat the stellar killer, Vivek Rajagopal, a clinical director for general medicine attached to National Health Services Foundation Trust, U.K., has said.

An India-born U.K. citizen , Dr. Rajagopal, said that a sort of diffidence in fighting the pandemic led to a spike in cases in England. The British response initially was a strategy based on data from China that was to test and quarantine people who were coming in to the country. “This was not enforced rigidly resulting in community spread,” he told The Hindu on Saturday.

Multiple factors such as laxity in enforcing the lockdown and failure to ban public events, whether it was football matches or horse race, resulted in community spread in high population density areas like London and Birmingham. “ The lockdown was enforced from March 23, and the effectiveness of this can be assessed from mid-April as the current cases reflect the time period before the lockdown,” Dr. Rajagopal said.

The British government, he said, was concerned about the lockdown impacting the economy and whether people could be persuaded to comply with an early regulation.

[Data from Public Health England at 3 p.m. BST (7.30 p.m. Indian Standard Time) on Saturday said that there are 38,168 confirmed cases, 4,450 new cases, and 3, 606 deaths in the U.K.]

“India’s strategy has been impressive so far as the COVID-19 spread has been largely contained through testing, quarantine and contact tracing. But India will struggle to cope with widespread community spread though the demographic factors are in its favour,” he said.

Next phase

The timing of the lockdown, he said, has been good and it has saved probably thousands of lives. The next phase should include ramping up testing and quarantine facilities, relaxation of the lockdown to allow the economy to recover and isolate the most vulnerable people over 60 and younger people with cardiovascular disease, diabetes and patients on immunosuppression for a further period of 12 weeks as it will not be clear if the virus resurfaces,” Dr. Rajagopal said. Besides, the antibody testing once it becomes available should be done for all healthcare workers so that a feel for the current prevalence of illness can be obtained as they would have been most exposed to the virus, he added.

Last year, Dr. Rajagopal along with the staff of the West Suffolk NHS was given a reception by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in recognition of his work at the 10 Downing Street.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 9:24:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/lessons-for-india-to-learn-from-uk/article31259714.ece

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