Coronavirus — Docs Warn of Community Transmission in India

  • The statement came at a time when all previous records have been broken and in the last 24 hours.
  • From today, all activities are being opened gradually.
  • The death toll in India now stands at around 15,000, more than the official death toll in China.

Top health experts in India have issued a joint statement sharply criticizing the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and its policy in tackling the coronavirus. At least three medical professional associations have said in a statement that the lockdown in India is “draconian,” and that “community transmission” has already begun in earnest in India.

The first case of the COVID-19 pandemic in India was reported on 30 January 2020, originating from China. As of 1 June 2020, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare have confirmed a total of 190,535 cases, 91,819 recoveries (including 1 migration) and 5,394 deaths in the country.

The statement came at a time when all previous records have been broken and in the last 24 hours. An additional 8,500 new patients have been identified as having tested positive for coronavirus in India.

Besides, after the four-point lockdown, “Unlock 1” guidelines are starting in India. From today, all activities are being opened gradually. The statement was jointly issued by three professional organizations of health experts in the country: the Indian Public Health Association, the Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine, and the Indian Association of Epidemiologists.

Among those who have signed the statement are many advocates of public health and medical science. For example, Dr. DCS Reddy is the head of the epidemiology group formed last month to tackle ICMR COVID-19, the government’s top research institute.

Another member of the group, Dr. Shashi Kant of the Ames Community Medicine Department, was one of the signatories to the statement, and many more like him.

“Social Contagion has Taken Root”

They said directly in the statement that it was wrong to expect the coronavirus epidemic to be eradicated from India at this stage, as social transmission, or community transmission, had already taken root in India and spread among a huge sub-population.

Second, calling India’s lockdown “draconian” or “terrible,” they added that the move would ultimately result in far more casualties than it would have saved. “It’s not just the bread of half the population of India that is endangered – the country’s regular health care or treatment of other diseases, in the name of preventing coronavirus, has almost stopped.”

In their statement, the experts also put forward an eleven-point recommendation on what needs to be done now to prevent coronavirus infection in India. One of these is to bring more transparency in the fight against COVID-19.

One of the authors of the report, Dr. Sanjay K. Rai, an expert at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), said, “the government should make all the data about COVID-19, public test results – so that everyone has access to it.”

Without this information, they feel that it is not possible to carry out any impartial research or determine the right strategy against COVID-19. They also suggested that a nationwide lockdown be lifted and cluster-based restrictions must be introduced.

The All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) are a group of autonomous government public medical colleges of higher education. As of January 2020, fifteen institutes are operating and eight more are expected to become operational until 2025.

It also says that the government is now making all the decisions in consultation with bureaucrats. Instead, more health professionals should be involved in the decision-making process.

8,500 New Patients

Meanwhile, the fourth phase of lockdown in India is coming to an end on Sunday, while the number of new patients is breaking the previous record almost every day. In the last 24 hours, 6,360 new coronavirus patients have been identified in India, surpassing all previous records.

The death toll in India now stands at around 15,000, more than the official death toll in China. In fact, at the very end of the four-point lockdown, the rate of infection seems to be on the rise, with no sign of slowing down yet.

However, in the interest of the economy, “Unlock 1.0” has to be launched in India from Monday. The lockdown is much more relaxed and strict restrictions are in place only in the “containment zones.” Although it is too late for the experts to come to this place, it seems that the government is accepting it.

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Benedict Kasigara

I have been working as a freelance editor/writer since 2006. My specialist subject is film and television having worked for over 10 years from 2005 during which time I was the editor of the BFI Film and Television.

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