Focus should be on preventing community transmission phase of COVID-19: Experts

Suggest authorities move to mitigation mode swiftly; identifying hotspots and early containment will help slow down viral transmission

Published: 17th March 2020 06:59 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th March 2020 06:59 AM   |  A+A-

An employee cleans the premises of Thampanoor bus station that wears a deserted look in the wake of COVID-19 scare | Vincent Pulickal

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The world over, COVID-19 cases have been observed to show an exponential rise in numbers within three to four weeks after its first occurrence. In order to slow down the imminent COVID-19 outbreak, authorities should start early tests to identify and prevent the community transmission phase of the virus, health experts have suggested.

Take for instance, Italy—the country most affected after China. On January 30, just two COVID-19 cases were reported in Italy. By the third week of February, it rose to a few hundred cases. In the first week of March it climbed to 3,000 positive cases and by March 10, it crossed 10,000 cases. According to health experts, such an exponential rise in cases occurs when the community spread of the virus begins. Since the state’s healthcare system will face greater strain at that time, it is advisable to move to mitigation mode swiftly.

“In the first stage, it is important to identify the people, who may have brought the virus from abroad and the local people with whom they may have come in contact with. However, along with this process, tests should begin at the community level as well,” said a noted virologist of a top virology research institution.
Whom to test

Testing every last person in the community is impractical as a person in whom the virus is in the incubation stage may show a negative test result. Instead, health authorities can select patients with pneumonia or influenza who turn up at hospitals and see if they are infected with the novel coronavirus. In case a large number of people in an area turn positive, one can be sure that the virus is spreading rapidly in the community.

Based on this evidence, coronavirus hotspots can be identified so that authorities can focus their energy and resources on containment in those areas at a given time. According to experts, community transmission of the virus is inevitable. But identifying hotspots and early containment will ensure that the pace of the viral transmission is slowed down.

‘Arrest The Community Spread’

Community transmission phase of the virus will start very soon, warn experts
Authorities should focus on early detection of community transmission
COVID-19 hotspots should be identified and focus be given to such areas
State healthcare system cannot tackle community spread in multiple areas


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