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Lockdowns On and Off Likely Till Vaccine Hits the Market: Expert

Lockdowns On and Off Likely Till Vaccine Hits the Market: Expert

Published
Fit
3 min read
Lockdowns On and Off Likely Till Vaccine Hits the Market: Expert

It's been nearly a month since India went into one of the harshest lockdowns to contain the spread of coronavirus, that has left many European countries and the US completely overwhelmed. Overall, positive cases in India remain largely low at over 23,000 cases and nearly 700 deaths. However some states, specially Maharashtra, has seen an exponential rise in cases.

Many experts have attributed the overall low numbers to the success of the lockdown imposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 24 March, and subsequently on 14 April.

But others have called out India's extremely low numbers in testing, the view being, if you don't test heavily, you don't know how far the virus has spread.

As we move towards the 3 May deadline for the second lockdown to be lifted, the question being asked is, what next? Has India achieved the purpose of the lockdown? Or will the cases surge in the absence of restrictions?

FIT spoke with Dr Mathew Varghese, a veteran orthopaedic surgeon with Delhi's St Stephen's hospital, and also a public health expert who has been crucial to India's fight against another viral disease - Polio.

Question 1: Purpose of lockdowns is to increase our healthcare facilities and reduce our transmission rate, to flatten the curve for if and when the surge happens. My question to you is, are we ready?

Answer: I wish we were ready. We are trying, there is a lot of corporation between the government, the public health experts, doctors etc. But there is a goal you work towards when it comes to COVID-19. To achieve that level, there is a different level of preparedness, to remain within you should already be prepared. Are we ready for the scale at which this pandemic could potentially rise? No.

Question 2: So, will be see an extension of this lockdown? When it end? What is the solution out of this current situation.

Answer: It’s unfortunate that we had to impose a lockdown in the first place. At the time we had no option. Could we have been saved from reaching that stage? We could have. Was the disease here in India? No. Was coronavirus in the country? No. It came from outside. It didn’t come from the train or the busses, it came via aeroplanes. It came via people’s travel history. It was a simple call. All those coming from outside, be quarantined, don’t let them meet anyone. There is a critical point to everything. When you cross that, your preventive steps don’t work effectively. If on January 30, when the first cases came in India via Wuhan, had we kept those coming in in quarantine, this lockdown could have been avoided. What is the end? That is the problem. For any pandemic, the biggest question is, when do we remove restrictions. Can we impose social distancing, or what I call physical distancing? No. You don’t have a vaccine, you don’t have a treatment, nor can you maintain physical distancing. We Will have to wait for the vaccine to be ready. And a vaccine will take time, no matter how hard you push, it will at least take 1.5 years. There is time for the vaccine, so what do we do? We will have to open lockdown at some point, and the virus will return, this curve will continue. In between, we will have to lift and impose lockdowns till we have a vaccine, that’s my opinion.

(This story was auto-published from a syndicated feed. No part of the story has been edited by The Quint.)

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