BELAGAVI: The Lancet Covid commission India Task Force, in a report titled ‘Managing India’s Second COVID-19 Wave: Urgent Steps’, has not recommended a blanket national or state lockdown. It has instead suggested localised, phased restrictions or closures. It has recommended that the next two months can be used to prepare the education sector for a safe opening of schools, colleges in July 2021 for the next academic year.
It suggested a temporary ban on gatherings of groups larger than 10 for the next two months. They said the government should report regularly on the frequency of AEFIs post vaccine and also provide financial support for genomic sequencing to identify mutants and variants.
Experts in Karnataka largely agreed with the report. Dr Pradeep Banandur, member of the Covid Technical Advisory Committee and Additional Professor, Department of Epidemiology, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, said last year’s lockdown was to prepare for the impending number of cases, oxygen beds, ventilators, etc, while this year the country has facilities. As government beds are not sufficient, the state is negotiating with private hospitals for beds which will be worked out in a day or two, he said, adding localised containment measures have already been followed in Karnataka.
The second wave is expected to last 2-3 months and schools and colleges can be reopened once the test positivity rate is below 2 to 5 percent, he opined. Financial resources should be allocated for treatment and genomic sequencing, he added.
The report recommended an aggressive vaccine coverage of priority population groups, followed by phased opening up to younger populations with specific focus on the urban poor especially in states (and districts) with high rates of infection.
Dr Giridhara R Babu, Professor and Head Lifecourse Epidemiology, Public Health Foundation of India who is also a member of TAC and author of this report, said Karnataka can tie up with private manufacturers to produce vaccines. “It is high time we do it,” he said.
A mandatory seven-day institutional quarantine for all visitors arriving from other countries, with an RTPCR test conducted on day 8, and the option of completing another week in home isolation if the test is negative. Seasonal migration of workers from urban areas to rural parts is about to commence with the start of the harvest season. The State Government should support migrant labourers equipping them with masks, options for testing and vaccination and by setting up quarantine centres in host districts.