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Freedom From COVID-19: “India Has Handled Viruses Like Small Pox, Nipah Well, Same Will Be The Case For COVID-19,” Says Dr Shashank Joshi, Member of Maharashtra’s COVID Task Force

India has been fighting the war against COVID-19 since one and a half years now – many lessons have been learnt in this battle by the healthcare workers who have been in the forefront of this war. In a special series, Banega Swasth India team spoke to some of them to understand the way forward for India, when it comes to making the country free from COVID crisis

Freedom From COVID-19: “India Has Handled Viruses Like Small Pox, Nipah Well, Same Will Be The Case For COVID-19,” Says Dr Shashank Joshi, Member of Maharashtra’s COVID Task Force

New Delhi: Dr Shashank Joshi is a consultant endocrinologist at Mumbai’s Lilavati Hospital and is a member of the Maharashtra’s COVID Task Force. Born in Mumbai, 54-year-old Dr Joshi has been in the field for almost three decades and has also played a key role in formulating significant COVID decisions along with the state and national government during the pandemic.

On the occasion of Independence Day, NDTV speaks with Dr Shashank Joshi to know where we are on the the fight against the virus and what the road ahead looks like.

How COVID-19 Changed The Face Of Healthcare System In India?

Dr Shashank Joshi said,

When COVID-19 struck India, we didn’t know much about it. There were a lot of uncertainties, we didn’t know much about the virus – right from its origin, transmission and how deadly it is. So, both personally and professionally this was a very different experience. It was a large public health crisis, which was grappling the world and India was no exception. But, look at us now, from early 2020, when COVID first case was registered in India and till today, there has been a 360-degree learning curve. We have progressed in terms of treatment, infrastructure and vaccination drives.

Also Read: Freedom From COVID-19: “We Will Come Up Victorious, Learn From The Pandemic And Move On”, Says Dr Sandeep Budhiraja Of Max Healthcare

Learnings And Challenges In The Battle Of COVID-19

Freedom From COVID-19: “India Has Handled Viruses Like Small Pox, Nipah Well, Same Will Be The Case For COVID-19,” Says Dr Shashank Joshi, Member of Maharashtra’s COVID Task Force

54-year-old Dr Joshi has been in the field for almost three decades and has also played a key role in formulating significant COVID decisions

Dr Shashank Joshi said,

The first challenge was that there was a constant fear and risk for healthcare workers involved that at some point they will also catch the virus.

Remembering the early days in the fight against coronavirus, Dr Joshi said his family too was afraid since there was no particular treatment to the disease. He said, “I too had that fear, but I knew scientifically that 80 per cent of the COVID-19 cases are mild. It is only that 20 per cent where the cases can turn severe. In early days of May last year, I too contracted the virus, but I had a mild symptomatic infection.”

Also Read: Our Scientific Institutions Have Risen To The Occasion During Covid: Says Dr Rakesh Mishra

Talking about the other major challenges, Dr Joshi added,

The another difficult aspect in this battle was to understand everyone’s viewpoints and then take a decision. Since the virus was so different and new, every opinion counted, but to take those in consideration and then come up with a plan of action that actually helps the onground situation was a very big and difficult task.

Talking about the infrastructural difficulties, Dr Joshi further added, “Initially, we didn’t even have adequate healthcare infrastructure, which was needed to deal with such a big crisis. In Mumbai, jumbo facilities gave us the buffer time to overcome the shortage of facilities in the city. The challenge here was to take the decision of making such facilities in record breaking time period.”

On data and scientific research, Dr Joshi said

The biggest problem in COVID was that a lot of data that came to healthcare workers was in pre-print stage and wasn’t peer-reviewed. So, we struggled with research-based or evidence-based data that was needed to go ahead with the treatment.

Can State & Centre Work In Coordination & Deal With The Pandemic?

Dr Joshi said,

I personally feel it is possible. That has been the case with Maharashtra and central government coordination. Over the past few years, it has been very smooth and that is because both had one common goal – make India free from COVID-19. The best example of coordination between the state and centre can also be seen from the vaccination programme, it was launched very smoothly. The second classic coordination example, I would like to give is for genomic surveillance through CSIR labs and Maharashtra government. We know, a lot of delta variant strains came from the state, so, getting the right genomic data was the key. Even for delta plus variant, because of data sharing by these labs, we were able to identify it in different parts of Maharashtra.

Why Maharashtra Has Been On The Top Of COVID Charts In India Since The Beginning

Dr Joshi said it is unfortunate that Maharashtra has been on the top of charts of COVID-19 in India, explaining the reasons behind it, he added,

If we talk about Mumbai, the risk of transmission will always be high as it is a place with high population density, mobility and migration. Another major reason is crowd congregation.

Maharashtra Government’s Strategy To Handle The Third Wave

Dr Joshi said that in the third wave the priority for Maharashtra is to ensure every individual gets the best treatment as soon as possible. He added, “We want to work aggressively towards vaccination drive so that maximum number of people get some protection. Next is we need to have active surveillance and contact tracing. We want to make micro containment zones where we identify patients and close contacts, isolate them and then give them proper treatment.”

Way Forward For India

Giving a message to the policymakers on how they should gear up to fight future pandemics and deal with the ongoing crisis, Dr Joshi added,

For COVID-19, policymakers have to just ramp up vaccination and ensure it is given to as many people as possible on priority. Second is to have a zero-tolerance policy against people who are not following covid appropriate  behaviour or not adhering to the public guidelines.

He further added,

India is a global medical hub, it has handled smallpox, polio to nipah viruses in past. I am sure, we will also be able to handle COVID-19. We just need to be vigilant, and we need to have good public health and hygiene practices and work towards strengthening those.

What Should Be India’s Health Priorities & How Can We Achieve A COVID Free World

Signing off, Dr Shashank Joshi said,

We have to learn to live with COVID and therefore we have to behave responsibly. We have to ensure, we follow COVID-19 appropriate behaviour – we are wearing double masks, when required and wearing it properly, we are maintaining distance and avoiding crowds. We need to take maximum precautions. Once we have any COVID like symptoms, we need to promptly self-isolate, get tested. Lastly, everyone’s priority should be to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Despite of vaccination, we should not let our guard down, because of COVID-19 strains, individuals can get infected with the virus, even after getting vaccinated so masking is mandatory.

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

World

22,95,44,435Cases
19,20,52,504Active
3,27,83,741Recovered
47,08,190Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 195 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 22,95,44,435 and 47,08,190 have died; 19,20,52,504 are active cases and 3,27,83,741 have recovered as on September 22, 2021 at 3:49 am.

India

3,35,31,498 26,964Cases
3,01,9897,586Active
3,27,83,741 34,167Recovered
4,45,768 383Deaths
In India, there are 3,35,31,498 confirmed cases including 4,45,768 deaths. The number of active cases is 3,01,989 and 3,27,83,741 have recovered as on September 22, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

65,27,629 3,131

44,269 960

63,44,744 4,021

1,38,616 70

Kerala

45,39,926 15,768

1,61,765 5,813

43,54,264 21,367

23,897 214

Karnataka

29,69,361 818

13,769 617

29,17,944 1,414

37,648 21

Tamil Nadu

26,48,688 1,647

16,993 9

25,96,316 1,619

35,379 19

Andhra Pradesh

20,40,708 1,179

13,905 483

20,12,714 1,651

14,089 11

Uttar Pradesh

17,09,693 13

194 0

16,86,612 13

22,887

West Bengal

15,62,710 537

7,741 69

15,36,291 592

18,678 14

Delhi

14,38,556 39

400 21

14,13,071 18

25,085

Odisha

10,21,216 462

4,844 103

10,08,226 560

8,146 5

Chhattisgarh

10,05,120 26

297 0

9,91,260 26

13,563

Rajasthan

9,54,275 12

99 8

9,45,222 4

8,954

Gujarat

8,25,751 14

133 0

8,15,536 14

10,082

Madhya Pradesh

7,92,410 8

90 6

7,81,803 14

10,517

Haryana

7,70,754 8

328 12

7,60,618 20

9,808

Bihar

7,25,907 6

60 9

7,16,188 15

9,659

Telangana

6,63,906 244

4,938 53

6,55,061 296

3,907 1

Punjab

6,01,359 36

304 3

5,84,554 37

16,501 2

Assam

5,98,864 441

5,081 97

5,87,970 338

5,813 6

Jharkhand

3,48,139 14

65 10

3,42,941 4

5,133

Uttarakhand

3,43,405 12

249 18

3,35,765 29

7,391 1

Jammu And Kashmir

3,28,214 145

1,450 11

3,22,345 154

4,419 2

Himachal Pradesh

2,17,403 263

1,715 99

2,12,033 162

3,655 2

Goa

1,75,690 107

886 76

1,71,507 29

3,297 2

Puducherry

1,25,618 101

922 55

1,22,864 46

1,832

Manipur

1,18,870 197

2,174 9

1,14,861 203

1,835 3

Tripura

83,956 51

353 7

82,794 44

809

Mizoram

82,815 1,355

15,363 223

67,184 1,127

268 5

Meghalaya

79,817 150

1,878 18

76,558 167

1,381 1

Chandigarh

65,195 7

44 3

64,333 4

818

Arunachal Pradesh

54,190 64

413 3

53,504 60

273 1

Sikkim

31,014 43

627 27

30,007 70

380

Nagaland

30,959 52

470 3

29,832 46

657 3

Ladakh

20,743 6

144 6

20,392

207

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,670

0 0

10,666

4

Lakshadweep

10,360 1

9 1

10,300

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,607 7

17 4

7,461 3

129

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