BENGALURU: While Kerala and Maharashtra continue to contribute majorly to the Covid-19 cases in the country, their method of preventing widespread transmission has been appreciated by Karnataka’s public health experts who say that it is now time for Karnataka to strengthen containment measures for low-flat, and not a devastating, second wave.
“In 2020, Maharashtra and Kerala had first phase of outbreaks followed by other states. In 2021, it is encouraging to see how the two states are making efforts to prevent widespread transmission,” Dr Giridhara Babu, senior epidemiologist and public health expert, said.
He also felt that Karnataka needs to learn from lessons of the first wave. “Instead of addressing important, but active containment efforts, the tendency is to push often passive mitigation measures such as lockdowns, seal downs and curfews. At this stage, lockdowns might be necessary only if the health system cannot manage a high load of severe cases,” he explained.
According to health experts, it is not enough to only track the daily cases but the State Government should also supplement it with sero and genomic surveillance. “An increase in sero-surverys and genomic surveys has to happen. This can ensure that we get to know how the virus is behaving and also if the virus has mutated,” said Dr Nagaraja C, Director, Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases.
Public health experts also claim that event-based surveillance should be strengthened to capture information from all forms of media across all relevant sectors to complement conventional public health surveillance efforts. Taking to Twitter Dr Babu said, “Following are imperative at primary health centres: Testing available; Notification within 24 hours; Quick Contact tracing; report both active and zero cases; vulnerable population assessment should also be done,” he said.
Dr Vivek Jawali, Chairman, Fortis Hospitals said, “The Union Government should empower all private centres to rapidly vaccinate the entire population, plan beds in ICUs in advance, reinform and re-publish standard treatment guidelines. It’s alright if the second peak doesn’t happen, but the state should not be caught unprepared.”
Dr Manjunath CN, Director of Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases and Research Institute, agreed that any kind of super-spreader events like religious, political, educational protests, rallies should now be avoided.
“The focus should be on detecting cases and clusters in the community. Sentinel surveillance should be strengthened further. In 2020, states with better ILI/SARI surveillance by following syndromic surveillance could detect and thwart the epidemic earlier with lower fatalities. The number of Covid-19 deaths should also be reported daily and reviewed regularly at different levels,” Dr Babu said.