India: Leading doctors suggest a quick restrictive lockdown as COVID spread worsens

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Spreading at a very high speed, the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has overwhelmed healthcare infrastructure in several Indian states. Leading doctors feel an extraordinary response is urgently required to contain the virus, to deal with the health crisis in the country.

“One robust way to respond to this new variant of virus is to quickly go for a restrictive lockdown,” said Naresh Trehan, top cardiovascular and cardiothoracic surgeon.

“The way Maharashtra had taken a decision, the other states too should make a fast move… because time is precious.”

Regarding the magnitude of the situation which is getting steadily worse, Trehan, chairman of the Medanta hospital chain in India, said that the different new strains of virus have spread at double speed and caught the medical fraternity by surprise.

“Even the second wave of the Spanish flu was very devastating. Similarly in this second wave of COVID-19, I see that the number of cases are swelling very fast, each day. The difference between the figures of the first and second wave is enormous, almost double,” said Tehan.

READ ALSO: What’s the new coronavirus variant in India and how should it change their COVID response?

On how to contain the virus, the leading cardiologist said the vaccination drive has to be augmented.

“Besides, we have to increase the base of testing to ascertain the spread of this virus. And lastly everyone has to be cautious. Wearing a mask is a must… It’s simple to say but hard to implement on the ground, particularly in smaller towns and places ,” Trehan, an alma mater of the famous King George Medical College (KGMC) of Lucknow, said.

A total of 771 variants of concerns (VOCs) have been detected in a total of 10,787 positive samples shared by the states and union territories, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday.
India’s two approved vaccines, AstraZeneca and Bharat Biotech are effective against the UK and Brazilian variants. Source: @ians_india/Twitter. Source: @ians_india/Twitter

The new variants of coronavirus, which is spreading faster than ever before, is affecting young people, even children this time.

When asked about the new variants, leading Indian physician and former President of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), K.K. Agarwal told IANS: “The UK strain, seen largely in Punjab is affecting the young, especially those under the age of 45. Then there are strains from South Africa, Brazil and ones traced in Maharashtra. Out of these, the Indian mutation (of the virus) seems a bit dangerous. Like a wave, the virus is now spreading from the west (Maharashtra) to north (Delhi)… But seeing the cases, I can say that the UK virus doesn’t look dangerous.”

On the question of enforcing a complete lockdown in the country to curb the further spread of the second wave of the pandemic, Agarwal suggested that area-wise containment could be effective.

“Complete lockdown would not be practical. Enough time has been lost. We have to now focus on how to back the healthcare services and provide treatment to patients as numbers of admission are rising at a very fast pace. I would suggest that people should go for treatment as soon as symptoms appear,” said Agarwal, who was awarded the Padma Shri, India’s fourth-highest civilian honour for his contribution to the field of medicine.

The leading medical practitioners have a word of caution for India’s young generation.

“For the past fortnight, I am seeing a trend that more and more youngsters are coming to our centres,” said Sandeep Sharma a top radiologist and a former key functionary of the Delhi Medical Association.

“On Wednesday, I saw 15 COVID-positive patients for their chest CT scan. Out of 15, only one patient was around 60 years old. Rest were within the age group of 40 to 22,” he said.

“The young population seems to have less fear about the virus. I would suggest they should be more careful as new strains of the virus are affecting them.”

The leading doctors were of the opinion that a callous approach by people, especially youngsters, and huge gatherings in recent festivals, and social events have led to the second wave.

“Everyone has to be careful. I will reiterate, that wearing a mask, and maintaining social distancing is the simplest form of prevention. Let’s follow this rule,” Trehan quipped.


READ ALSO: COVID-19: India’s vaccine rollout faces tough battles

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