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Drop in suspected cases good, but exercise caution: Experts

Epidemiologists say lifting lockdown restrictions any time soon will negate the progress

Published: 09th April 2020 06:06 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th April 2020 06:06 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The drop in the number of patients under observation across the state for Covid-19 in the past few days is indicative of the state gradually gaining control over the spread of the virus, say a section of epidemiologists. However, they caution that whatever little results that have been achieved may be undermined if the state completely lifts the lockdown restrictions any time soon.

“We did a fair amount of surveillance and testing over the past few weeks. If the spike in cases has been arrested over the past few days, we can assume the situation is now coming under control,” said Dr K P Aravindan, a pathology expert. Epidemiologists said while 345 people tested positive for Covid-19, there were only two deaths. In Gujarat, there were 13 deaths even though only 165 people tested positive. This, they said, indicated that several positive cases were going untraced.

“Kerala and Maharashtra carried out active surveillance and testing. Though the number of Covid-19 positive cases were initially similar in both, Maharashtra witnessed a spurt later. It may be because of its higher population. Community spread could have been a major factor too,” said Dr Aravindan. Incidentally, civic authorities in Mumbai on Wednesday admitted that Covid-19 entered the community transmission stage in the city.

‘Too early to say anything’
Dr B Ekbal, public health expert and member of the state planning board, said it was too early to say Kerala had successfully arrested the spread of the virus. “We have no idea whether there has been community spread. We may once the rapid test kits arrive,” he said. He said the state had, till now, focused on foreign returnees who were infected and those who tested positive after coming into contact with them. “With the arrival of such passengers decreasing after lockdown, the cases under observation came down proportionately,” he said.

‘Extend restrictions’
A health official said the real challenge for our healthcare system would be to prepare for the second wave of virus once people’s movement begins in the state after the lockdown is lifted. “It would be possible to confine people coming here from other countries. But what about people coming here from states worst affected than Kerala through porous borders,” asked the official. “Continuing with the strict restrictions until the cases outside the state and other countries stabilise is the lone solution to arrest further spread,” said the official.

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