We need to continue the lockdown for some more time with careful deliberation, considering health, economy and everything in mind, said AIIMS director Guleria
Guleria said we need to be prepared for it (the spike in cases), and be more vigilant to bring the number of cases down.’
India isn’t seeing a declining trend in new coronavirus cases even after 40 days into a strict nationwide lockdown, unlike the experience of countries such as Italy and China, said Dr Randeep Guleria, director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
In an interview, Dr Guleria said India needs to focus on the red zones and the hotspots. “We need to continue the lockdown for some more time with careful deliberation, considering health, economy and everything in mind," he added. The covid-19 curve is likely to peak in June or July in India, he said, and suggested an aggressive strategy to contain coronavirus cases in hotspots and adjacent areas. Edited excerpts:
The Centre is claiming the covid-19 curve is flattening. But the number of cases is rising every day. What is the worry?
What we are seeing is that the cases are increasing at a linear pace. One of the major reasons is that we are also testing more and every day we are testing a larger number of people than before. The percentage of people testing positive is about 4-4.5%. The major problem right now is that we are not seeing a declining trend. After 40 days of stringent lockdown, which got further extended, the case count should have come down. Many other countries have recorded a downward trend in their covid-19 curve.
How will the situation evolve? When do you see a peak in covid cases in India?
Since the covid-19 curve is not coming downwards, India needs an aggressive strategy for containment. Currently, the cases are continuing to grow at a flat rate, even more at times, so it’s very difficult to predict when the peak will come. But a peak is expected near June or July. That is the reason why we need to be prepared for it and more vigilant to bring the number of cases down.
What should be the strategy?
We need to revisit the strategy as the situation is evolving. If we are able to work on the hotspots, we will be in a better position to contain the infection. India needs to focus on the red zones and the hotspots. We need to continue the lockdown for some more time with careful deliberation considering health, economy everything in mind. We need to work out something for congested areas and crowded residential areas. This can be done by institutional quarantining of people who cannot be home quarantined due to lack of space. A major focus on hotspots can bring the covid-19 curve down because 70-80% of cases are coming from metropolitan cities. States such as Kerala are doing a great job in bringing the curves down. Similarly, northeastern states... these states are doing better than the national average in terms of numbers and containment efforts. We need micro planning, keeping local dynamics and scenarios in mind. Local leaders and religious leaders will also have to come forward for a collective responsibility.