BENGALURU: Karnataka is expecting 28,000 cases and about 7 per cent deaths, once the lockdown is lifted. Is the State prepared to handle the spurt in the number of the cases, ask public health experts.
This projection by epidemiologists was announced by Chief Secretary T M Vijay Bhaskar last week. Health experts say that other than oxygen beds and a few PPE suits, most of the preparedness is only on paper.
“We have to prepare for a rebound increase in the number of cases post lockdown. How the state prepares for it will define whether the increase can be still manageable or whether it can overwhelm the health system,” Anant Bhan, researcher in global health, bioethics and health policy, said. Medical experts feel the month of May can be a “make or break” sorts. Aggressive containment strategy for hotspots along with insulation of green zones is essential while giving some relaxations.
Complete lifting of lockdown might not still be a good idea, they say. “Being a doctor with a government hospital, I am not sure if we are really ready for these numbers,” said a senior doctor on condition of anonymity. Some of the doctors working on the field feel the State is well prepared to address any surge in the cases. However, the key is to strengthen the surveillance (SARI & ILI), especially in silent districts.
Dr Giridhara Babu, Member of ICMR’s Epidemoology and Surveillance Research group and Karnataka’s Tech Analysis Committee for Covid- 19 Response, said, “In addition, district task forces should be set up with district preparedness action plans for the next year.
It is important to prevent the spread from urban to rural and from high to low transmission areas. In the event of any further relaxation in restrictions, it is challenging how inter-state and inter-district spread can be prevented.” Whilst the State is doing well, we need to balance lockdown and nurturing the economy, said Dr Satyanarayana Mysore, senior pulmonologist, Manipal Hospital. “It is time to ease lockdown in a zonal manner. North Karnataka will need further focus,” he said. Dr Sudarshan Ballal, nephrologist and Director, Manipal Hospitals, said, “Based on the current statistics we do not know what the surge will be once the lockdown is eased out. But if it is done in a phased manner and all necessary precautions like distancing are followed, we should be able to manage.”