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COVID-19: Public health experts wary of Kerala easing lockdown restrictions

Public health experts have also asked the government to conduct rapid antibody screening and heat map analysis before opening businesses.

Published: 21st April 2020 06:31 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st April 2020 09:07 AM   |  A+A-

COVID-19 may have kept the entire population indoors but nothing changes the day's routine for waste collectors. For the hundreds of sanitation workers in the city their hardwork is essential to keep the city stink free in Kochi. (Photo | Albin Mathew/EPS)

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The government’s decision to kickstart the economy by easing restrictions saw many people crowding at markets and public places on Monday. Alarmed at the public’s response, health experts said easing the restrictions will create more obstacles in the state’s efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Public health experts have also asked the government to conduct rapid antibody screening and heat map analysis before opening businesses.

They said that taking the foot off the brake at a crucial juncture will do more harm than good. Singapore and Japan, which lifted the restrictions after witnessing a slump in cases, are now dealing with a new wave of COVID-19 infections, they pointed out. It’s reliably learnt that the public health experts of the health department were not taken into confidence before deciding to ease the restrictions.

“The public’s response was not at all encouraging. The containment measures like social distancing and wearing of facemasks were flouted at many places. Hence, the government should reconsider the decision,” said a health department officer.

People thronging roads, markets and other public spaces without following the safety norms could jeopardise state government’s achievement and will put the efforts to flatten the curve in a precarious position, health experts warn.

“It is a fact that the number positive cases are plummeting and more patients are getting discharged from the hospital. But that doesn’t mean that the state is free from the COVID-19 threat. It remains unknown whether the state has any asymptomatic case or silent spreader. The chances of re-infection are also there,” added the officer.

At the same time, sources say that the decision to bring in some relaxations was not of a collective one as public health experts and epidemiologists were kept in the dark.

“Neither the country nor the state could remain in a lockdown forever. But a misstep at this time has the potentiality to become deadly. A spike in cases, especially in a society with a good number of aged population and with comorbidities like cancer, respiratory illness, diabetes and others, will overwhelm the health system. The result will be a catastrophe beyond imagination,” said a representative of the Kerala Government Medical Officers’ Association.

The public health experts are of the opinion that the state government should make informed decisions and not out of the current trend of viral transmission. According to them, it will be too early to loosen the lockdown.

WHAT THEY SAY...

  • Taking the foot off the brake at a crucial juncture will do more harm than good.

  • Singapore and Japan, which lifted the curbs after witnessing a slump incases, are now dealing with a new wave of COVID-19 infections.

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