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Evidence-based management of lockdown, by districts in Karnataka

Lockdown is most effective in slowing down the epidemic momentum only on the ascending limb of the momentum graph.

Published: 18th June 2021 12:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd June 2021 07:49 PM   |  A+A-

A health worker shows the vials fo Covaxin dose, at a vaccination centre in Kolkata. (Photo | PTI)

A study of the dynamics of the second wave of COVID epidemic, specifically for each state and every district is  made available athttps://tiny.cc/covid-momentum website. The onset, progression, peak and decline vary from district to district in each State.

There are three parameters pertaining to the epidemic, each with its own wave and peak, namely epidemic momentum (rate of change in new cases based on a 7 -day rolling average), documented daily numbers of new casesand cumulative numbers of active cases. Typically, there is a consistent pattern of time sequence of these three peaks – momentum, new case numbers and active cases. Visualising the time of these peaks in a given district will enable health administrators to take appropriate action vis-à-vis the lockdown.

Lockdown is most effective in slowing down the epidemic momentum only on the ascending limb of the momentum graph. Well-timed lockdown provides time to prepare for surge capacity -- hospital beds, Intensive care (ICU) beds, supply of oxygen and essential drugs. During this time, the focus should be on effective application of ‘social vaccine’ and to rapidlyincrease immunisation coverage – these will help reduce the rapid progression of the epidemic.

Social vaccine consists of Information-Education-Communication on COVID and Behaviour-modification Education for adopting all elements of COVID-appropriate behavior -- mask-wearing, hand hygiene, physical distancing of arm’s length when all are masked, avoiding crowds and improving indoor-ventilation during any activity.

Lock-down should be relaxed when the three peaks are over, as illustrated below.  For the attention of administrators there are two more parameters to study: mortality acceleration and numbers of daily deaths.  When the graph of active cases peaks, the mortality acceleration would be in progress – we must expect a rapid increase in the number of very sick patients over the next 2-3 weeks -- administrators should be ready for enhancing healthcare surge capacity.  Once number of daily deaths also peaks and declines, everyone can relax, lock-down can be eased gradually and carefully  but the tempo of COVID immunisationand adherence to COVID appropriate behavior should be sustained. 

Once the numerical mortality peak is over, the district will have surplus supply of essential necessities of hospitals, especially medicines and oxygen concentrators– they should be shared with needy neighbors.

In Karnataka now all the peaks are over in most districts. Bengaluru urban (see graph) is a typical example where all the peaks are over and mortality (not shown) has also started coming down. Careful relaxation of curbs can be introduced, maintaining ‘social vaccine’ and continuing immunization, in view of the slight apparent increase in infection momentum.

Even though the momentum of transmission is apparently increasing, it is still less than 0: since both daily numbers and active cases are declining steadily, thisrelative acceleration will not result in further rise of the current wave.

Mysuru (see graph), on the other hand, is an example of a district where momentum and numbers of cases have peaked but active cases are hovering high, likely to peak soon.  We know that mortality is still on the increase.  Therefore, it is not yet time to relax lockdown restrictions.

As of this writing (16 June) in Chitradurga and Davenagere active-cases are nearing the peak. These districts, along with Mysuru need to urgently enhance hospital surge capacity.

In all the remaining districts of Karnataka,all three peaks are over; in addition, even mortality acceleration and numerical mortality peak are over and they can expect the hospital admissions to progressively come down. They can begin allowing hospitals to admit non-COVID patients for elective treatment and surgery. They should however continue focus on social vaccine and increase immunization coverage.



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