BENGALURU: The next one week will be crucial in the state’s fight against the coronavirus, warn health officials, as they urge people to continue social distancing, use masks and observe quarantine measures.
Health and Family Welfare Commissioner Pankaj Kumar Pandey told TNIE, “The next week is a testing time for all of us, to decide how the state is moving forward in terms of number of cases. The department is doing its best and has made several arrangements.”
Officials are now concerned about possible community spread, if the public doesn’t follow self-discipline and hygiene. “What we do now will determine whether we are able to continue the momentum at a lower exponential, or if it will flare up and result in a surge in cases. So far, we are well-positioned. What we do, how we do it and how we go into the next few days and weeks, will determine the overall result,” Pandey explained.
A senior doctor who’s monitoring the Covid situation in the state said, “It also depends on the people’s compliance with government directives. The only solution to tackle the coronavirus crisis lies in maintaining social distance, wearing masks, washing hands and using sanitiser. During the lockdown, the health department was well prepared, but if people don’t cooperate it might all go down the drain,” he warned.
Agreeing with this, Pandey said the key to prevent community outbreak or cluster transmission lies in effective social discipline, and the Karnataka government has done its best to ensure that people follow quarantine rules. “Community outbreak depends on the returnees’ ability to exercise self-discipline while home quarantined. SARI cases are also being strictly monitored. People who have come from other states and districts will also be closely monitored,” he explained.
Meanwhile, senior epidemiologist Dr Giridhara R Babu said, “Lockdown is a form of imposed discipline, and pretty severe at that. But now, we have to move into personal discipline. It is something we have to adopt as a matter of daily routine for some time to come. This is changing even in the green zone. While we may be getting back to work, the way we interact with our colleagues in office or move on the streets – all this is going to change. I think we have been prepared for the change.”
Bioethics researcher Anant Bhan was critical about the relaxation of lockdown norms and the government’s handling of the situation. “It’s not done. If the government wants revenue, if should ensure better planning too. Is excise revenue more important than public health? Social distance norms must be followed. The government can’t do this and later put the onus on the people,” he said.