- Cases are increasing instead of flattening which is concerning: AIIMS Chief
- We are not at the stage of widespread community transmission: Dr Guleria
- Learn to do our day-to-day activities with social distancing: Dr Guleria
New Delhi: The lockdown across the world, including India, has seen some relaxation in the restrictions imposed to control coronavirus this week. This makes experts fear the impact of the transmission of the diseases but at the same time they agree that the indefinite lockdown is not a sustainable option. Dr Randeep Guleria, Chief of AIIMS and advisor to the government for the COVID-19 strategy talked to NDTV about the status of the virus in India as well as the way ahead.
Why have we seen a sudden spike in cases and deaths particularly over the last couple of days, does it concern you?
Dr Randeep Guleria: There are two things here – one is that the number of cases continues to rise which is a cause of concern as it indicates that we have not reached the peak yet and the cases are not coming down. It can also be linked to the number of tests being conducted on a daily bases. We are at around 80,000 tests per day and will cross 1,00,000 tests per day by the end of the week. So, the cases will be up as the testing goes up. Having said that, I would’ve loved for the number cases to remain the same while the tests go up. But the numbers are increasing instead of flattening which is huge concern to me.
The data shows that the positivity rate is the same as it was a month ago, is that a silver lining?
Dr Randeep Guleria: That is an encouraging part, the positivity rate has remained from 4-4.5 per cent. so if you look at the number of people who are being tested and the number who are turning out to be positive, remained more or less the same. So like I said the number of cases rising may be related to the number of testing, rather than actual increase in the cases. Another interesting thing is that the areas from where we are getting the maximum number of cases are just a handful. The number of cases has actually declined or not showing a rising trend in a large part of the country.
Are we in community transmission?
Dr Randeep Guleria: if you look at a country of India’s level, I don’t think we are at the stage of widespread community transmission. Like I said before, the cause of concern remains the hotspots, if there are signs of community transmission and how could we prevent that. I don’t think we are at the community transmission at a national level but we need to be vary of the hotspots as we have a large number of clusters developing and we need to have a very aggressive lockdown, quarantine and social distancing in these areas.
Are you suggesting that the focus should be on the containment zones rather than larger areas and larger districts as we are slowly exiting the lockdown as well?
Dr Randeep Guleria: I think so. I think now we need to start micro-planning and look at these areas zone by zone, district by district and see how aggressively we can have a containment strategy and how we can avoid the cases going up. Each area might have to adopt a different strategy. Remember that we are a large country with each area having its own challenges be it economic, crowding or other factors. Therefore one size fits all may not work now and we might have to work on micro-planning now.
You’ve said that this will be a long challenge spanning at around a year, so what can we do to be safe and get to work?
Dr Randeep Guleria: This is very important, COVID-19 is not going to disappear for quite some time. We hope that with the vaccine coming out we may get a hold of the disease, but we will have to have a new normal. We will have to learn to do our day-to-day activities with social distancing. We all will have to go around wearing masks for sometime. Hand washing will be crucial. Even things like cough etiquettes and no spitting. This might definitely have effects on certain sectors of our economy and even the health sector would have to adapt to this new normal.