Use 21-day lockdown to bolster health infra against Covid-19: Doctors

New Delhi, March 26 : Amid the increase in coronavirus cases across the country, doctors and other healthcare experts reckon that the 21-day lockdown is not enough to wipe Covid-19 out. The government should use the period as an opportunity for strengthening the healthcare infrastructure, banning foreigners' entry to India at least for a month, and ensuring protection for healthcare workers fighting coronavirus.

World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had said the lockdown, enforced in India and many other countries to contain coronavirus, was not enough. The countries that had gone for lockdown should use this as a second window of opportunity, Ghebreyesus said.

Dr Dodul Mondal, a senior Delhi-based oncologist, told IANS, "The 21-day lockdown will be nothing without forward looking measures. The government should focus on expanding quarantine facilities and identify at-risk groups, which included slums.

"During lockdown, the government should increase immediate testing facilities, ensure protective gear for doctors and other medical staff to protect them against the infection, and increase the number of ventilators."

"We need to strictly quarantine people who are coming from abroad," said Dr Mondal.

The administration, he said should also focus on training people during this period, which would be an add-on to contain the coronavirus spread.

Dr Mehvash Haider, Assistant Professor at Hamdard Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, said public health measures, like physical or social distancing, was important to flatten the curve of sharp increase in spread of infection, but they were not enough. "This lockdown is a golden period. This has to be used for strengthening the testing facilities and hospital response capacity," he said.

According to health experts, the sharp rise in Covid-19 cases came after three months in Italy and China, the coronavirus hotspots, as the infected people usually show symptoms after close to 14 days.

Dr Shyam Mohan Nayak, medical officer with the Labour Ministry, said the country was witnessing a sharp rise in coronavirus cases. "This 21-day lockdown will lead to isolation, where the disease will eventually collapse or the viral infection cease to exist. China and Italy experienced extremely sharp rise in cases and that crippled their healthcare system.

"We should suspend the entry of foreigners at least till the end of April. It will help in focusing the fight against Covid-19 domestically," he said.

He stressed protecting people from the second wave of coronavirus, spread through healthy carriers who don't show symptoms. "Isolation will serve the purpose in the absence of anti-viral drugs. Through isolation, the incubation period of coronavirus can be brought under control," said Dr Nayak.

An incubation period is the time between exposure to virus and appearance of symptoms.

According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the incubation period for coronavirus is between 2 to 14 days after exposure.

According to reports, more than 97 per cent people who contracted SARS-CoV-2 started showing symptoms within 11.5 days of exposure, and the average incubation period was 5 days.

For many people, Covid-19 symptoms start in mild form only to get worse over the next few days.

(Sumit Saxena can be contacted at [email protected])

(IANS)

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Use 21-day lockdown to bolster health infra against Covid-19: Doctors