India yet to see peak of corona: Health expert

We have not reached the peak. We are still on the climbing part of the curve. The intent is to slow it down and bend it soon through various measures, including lockdown.

By   |  Published: 4th Apr 2020  12:10 amUpdated: 4th Apr 2020  12:26 am
Dr K Srinath Reddy

Hyderabad: The country was yet to see the peak of the Covid-19 epidemic, said Public health specialist and president of Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) Dr K Srinath Reddy on Friday. In a chat with general public on Twitter, the alumnus of Osmania Medical College, Hyderabad, addressed several issues related to the novel strain of coronavirus and the country’s response to it.

Has coronavirus peaked in India? Will Markaz cluster have its impact?

We have not reached the peak. We are still on the climbing part of the curve. The intent is to slow it down and bend it soon through various measures, including lockdown. All crowded events in March would have a negative effect, but we must enforce strict discipline now.

How to end lockdown across the country?

We need to release the lockdown in stages, maintain social distancing, and improve surveillance of coronavirus cases through testing, tracing, isolation and treating. Identification of hotspots and sealing them off is critical.

Is Indian coronavirus strain less virulent and do BCG vaccines help?

As viruses travel through many persons across populations, they undergo mutations. While some minor structural changes have been noted in the Indian strain, we need more evidence on whether the change is beneficial. BCG vaccination appears protective according to some analyses. While hoping for such protection, we still need to study the course of the epidemic over the next two months.

On shortage of testing kits?

Testing is done to detect the presence of virus early in infection and antibody which indicates the immune response after day 7. Different kits are required for each stage. As their availability increases, more tests will be performed at both public and private hospitals. In a large population, testing has to be prioritised in clinical criteria.

Do governments need to test more persons?

The Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) has expanded the testing criteria as of Thursday, permitting rapid tests which can detect antibodies. Testing, both for virus and antibodies, will increase with greater availability of kits. Other countries too have faced testing challenges.

On shortage of masks and other medical equipment across the country?

There is an excellent opportunity for 3D printing N95 masks in engineering colleges and design institutes in the country. In fact, PHFI has produced and tested models that can be shared. The 3D technology is available to share, but regulatory approval needs to be fast-tracked.

 


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