Hyderabad: The lockdown and complete curfew for the next 21 days could potentially help authorities control the COVID-19 outbreak and at the same time give them sufficient time and opportunity to launch massive surveillance, identify possible contacts, virus carriers and even possibly conduct mass testing of persons who returned from affected countries, according to senior health officials involved in fighting coronavirus in Telangana.
The strong measures, which are often referred to as ‘Suppression Strategy’ by epidemiologists, have the potential to check a steep rise in positive cases with limited or reasonable cost to the society and at the same time saving millions of lives along the way, they maintain.
By adopting complete lockdown, social distancing and quarantine strategies, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and State health department hope that coronavirus would come under control, at a reasonable cost to the society.
Health officials are in the process of launching a massive fever surveillance drive across the State. Apart from directing private hospitals to start identifying severe pneumonia cases and also collect their samples, authorities will launch surveillance drive to identify virus carriers, contact tracing and have a plan in place to reduce the load at tertiary health care facilities i.e. government teaching hospitals.
Public health officials told Telangana Today that during the lockdown period, when the chances of community transmission is less, they will also work towards locating clusters of transmission and then focus on interventions in those clusters, especially in the high risk districts of the State including Rangareddy, Hyderabad, Bhadradri Kothagudem and Karimnagar.
Why Suppression Strategy?
Many public health experts fear that a complete lockdown will only postpone the epidemic and once the harsh social distancing measures are relaxed, cases will again start to get reported.
However, there are advantages too.
“We are expecting to achieve two important things from lockdown. It will cut down on exponential growth of cases and give us more time to take up fever surveillance, identify transmission clusters and carriers,” health officials said.
Testing and Tracing
At present, health officials have a fair idea of the number of persons who have returned from countries affected by coronavirus. However, they don’t have any idea on how many of them are COVID-19 positive. Health officials across the globe have argued that countries can utilise the lockdown time to identify suspected cases and test them for COVID-19.
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