Covid Alarm: Experts call for reimposing curbs in Delhi (IANS Special)

Updated: Nov 19,2020 13:54 GMT

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New Delhi, Nov 19 (IANS) With Covid cases increasing rapidly in the national capital, the health experts are of the view that the Kejriwal government need to reimpose restrictions or impose a partial lockdown in the city to contain the Covid spread.

Speaking to IANS, former head of the epidemiology and communicable diseases at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Dr Lalit Kant suggested that the government must curb the movement and impose strict restrictions on public transport, markets and areas which are potential hotbeds of the infection.

"The primary concern should be to minimise the interaction among the public. Since everything is thrown open, the government must clamp down the spaces of massive public interaction such as public transport and markets. This is where the most interaction is happening among public and the preventive measures are going for a toss," he said.

Kant also said that the focus should be on containing the virus, rather than just treating the disease. "The enhancement of bed capacity is crucial to save lives but the primary goal should be to control the infection spread. The government can keep enhancing the capacity but are the system equipped to manage surge after surge? We are looking to treat the virus whereas we should be working on controlling it. If we diligently focus on the latter, we can anyway reduce the hospital admissions," he said.

Kant also said that the current crisis is the result of government's approach which based on rhetoric rather than science and data.

"It opened everything initially without even studying the data and forecasting the pattern the virus would take. Even during the lockdown, the dates were decided before analyzing the data," he added.

He also hinted that the government measures suggest that it was ill-prepared before relaxing the lockdown norms. "The measures taken by the government in the past like limiting healthcare facilities of Delhi to residents of the city only (which was later struck down by the Centre) and reservation of beds for COVID-19 patients suggest that decisions were not taken upon data study and health expert advices. Such approaches showed lack of preparation. When we are dealing with a thing that is new, dynamic and less-studied, our measures must reflect scientific approach rather than political," he added.

Member of Delhi Covid Committee constituted by Kejriwal government, Dr RK Gupta said that the government should immediately cease movement by closing all public and private transport and restrict the function of local markets.

"Everything should be restricted. Businesses should not be closed but regulated. This is need of the hour. Because if the cases surge any further, then people would start dying in the lack of healthcare. Availing a bed would become a luxury. Delhi would be doomed," he stated.

While adding that focus should be more put on contact tracing, he said that it is not possible till the restriction is not imposed. "When everyone is moving, how will you trace the spread of infection?" Gupta questioned.

He also questioned the scheme of testing the samples by RT-PCR and Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) technology conducted by the government. "There is a mismatch in following this protocol as well. No proper follow up is done on the RAT negatives," Gupta said.

As per the protocol, the RTPCR is followed after negative results from RAT, since it has very low sensitivity faring just under 5 per cent. Gupta estimated that if proper follow-up is done, then cases may emerge double that the current figures.

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