Health expert said on Friday that India must gear up to face the possibility of community spread of the COVID-19 cautioning that there could be more widespread transmission of the novel coronavirus due to easing of the lockdown.
President of Public Health Foundation of India, Prof. K Srinath Reddy said if one looks at the spread to people without history of travel or history of contact, certainly there are several such cases, “But most of them are concentrated around the original points of entry of the foreign travellers or the travel routes of their contacts. So, these people who are describing it as stage 2 still are saying this is traceable local transmission; it is not unpredictable community transmission.
Reddy who formerly headed the Department of Cardiology at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), said we are avoiding community transmission as it is the matter of definition and language we need not debate that really.
Nations in South East Asia, including Malaysia and India, have kept the Coronavirus death rates rates per million of the population low compared to countries where the pandemic broke out around the same time.
He also said the deaths rate in India could be the benefit of multiple factors such as younger age group, more rural population, temperature and climatic conditions as well as the benefits the containment measures which preceded lockdown, and then got much more consolidated with the lockdown.
However there are some risk factors when lockdown opens here will be much greater mobility of people, there could be more widespread transmission of the virus, so we have to maintain as much as possible physical distancing, continue practices like wearing masks and hand-washing as precautionary measures, he said.
“But most important thing is to protect the rural areas (from Covid-19) because two-thirds of India is in rural areas, and the transmission of the virus is low there because mobility is low, Reddy said.
The risk of transmission will certainly increase with the lifting of the lockdown therefore several precautionary measures have to be taken in order to contain the virus.
Evolutionary biology of the virus says that when the movement is greatly restricted and its chances of transmission are greatly reduced, the virus actually can turn into a milder virus, said Reddy, who is also an Adjunct Professor of the Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University and Honorary Professor of Medicine at the University of Sydney.
To reduce the transmission, speed and number, at the same time try and moving it towards milder form to our own defensive measures we have to do everything.
So, while there are threats, there are also opportunities for us to protect ourselves and even control not only the spread of the virus but also the virulence of the virus, he added.
-Davinder Panesar, NMTV News