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Lockdown exit will bump up corona cases to 28K

Officials map strategies, say easing restrictions will result in large-scale infection, will have to tread fine line between health of people and economy

Published: 23rd April 2020 07:04 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd April 2020 02:56 PM   |  A+A-

Lockdown, Bengaluru

People wait in a queue for food packets in Bengaluru on Wednesday | Shriram B N

By Express News Service

BENGALURU: With just 11 days for the lockdown to be lifted, the Karnataka government is holding a series of meetings with health officials to come up with a strategy, and also predict the immediate repercussions of easing restrictions. The state health department, depending on various modules presented by the state’s best epidemiologists and other doctors who have anlaysed data, is expecting around 28,000 cases of Covid-19 patients once the lockdown is lifted.

Speaking at a webinar held by Synergia Foundation on Wednesday evening, Chief Secretary TM Vijaybhaskar said, “We have got conflicting opinions on lifting of the lockdown from various experts. However, we are expecting about 28,000 cases to show up in the state,” he said.Along with this, the biggest challenge is revival of the economy, he said. “We are putting all strategies in place to ensure there is enough medical preparation to contain the disease, but another big challenge would be the economic state of affairs, as the state coffers are already running dry,” Vijaybhaskar added.

He explained that the state is in a better position compared to other states, when it comes to containment of the disease. The testing scenario has seen an improvement, with one positive person for every 50 people tested. “Our lockdown exit strategy will be planned meticulously, and ensure that we take care of several sectors, including the unorganised sector,” he said.

The webinar had panelists like Tobby Simon, founder and president, Synergia Foundation, Maj Gen Moni Chandi (Retd), chief strategic officer, Synergia Foundation, Dr Naresh Shetty, president, MS Ramaiah Memorial Hospital, Maj Gen Ajay Sah (Retd), chief information officer, Synergia Foundation, Dr Arvind Kasturi, head, Community Health Care, St John’s National Academy, and public policy advocate Dr Balasubramanyam. They spoke on several exit strategies, and how important it was to deal with the pandemic.

Dr Kasturi said, “One must understand and accept that there will definitely be a certain amount of infection and we have to deal with it. We must improve our public healthcare system at the grassroot level, and ensure that people know whom to contact, what to do if they display Covid symptoms. There must be education, and also treatment for mild symptomatic patients within their homes, to reserve Covid hospitals for serious cases.”

Dr Naresh Shetty said that the post-lockdown period will be a bigger challenge than the lockdown period itself. “We will have to deal with several things, including more and more patients testing Covid-positive, and we as healthcare professionals will have to take care of our own safety. Behavioural changes in people are needed. From accepting that the virus is here to stay for some time, people should be prepared to face the challenge,” he said.

Speaking about various probabilities, Dr Chandy said, “There are three scenarios: One, where professionals win with successful containment, by ensuring a staggered exit of lockdown, and within 18-36 months, there is a vaccine to fight it. Scenario 2, where law and order will be an issue and the pandemic breaks out of control, with several casualties, but can hope for herd immunity in the next seven to eight months. Scenario 3 would be when doctors talk of a new environment, with lockdown being the norm and stopping social activities completely. We will continue to live in this virtual world for some time.”

However, Dr Balasubramanyam said that the pandemic has brought in new hope for hygiene knowledge among the rural population. “I struggled for 30 years to teach rural people to wash their hands, this pandemic has done it in one month. Solutions have to be found keeping the economic conditions of the rural population in mind, or the government will fail,” he said.

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