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We Can’t Expect Relaxations In Physical Distancing Anytime Soon: WHO’s Dr David Nabarro

World Health Organisation’s Special Envoy on COVID-19, Dr David Nabarro spoke to NDTV where he discusses India’s fight against the coronavirus and what can we expect in the coming months

We Can’t Expect Relaxations In Physical Distancing Anytime Soon: WHO’s Dr David Nabarro
Highlights
  • India has a lower mortality rate as compared to other countries: WHO
  • Maintaining vigilance and focusing on virus's movement is important: WHO
  • As life progresses please try to maintain the physical distancing: WHO

With over 4 lakh cases, India currently has the sixth-highest death rate by coronavirus while in terms of the total cases, stands at fourth after USA, Brazil and Russia at the top three places, respectively. World Health Organisation’s Special Envoy on Covid-19, Dr David Nabarro spoke to NDTV where he discusses India’s fight against the coronavirus and what can we expect in the coming months.

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Dr Nabarro said that India has a lower mortality rate as compared to other countries yet the rising number of cases remain a cause of concern. He said,

I’m reading the information with concern. I had hoped that the very effective early work done by the Indian authorities with full involvement of the states and the district, we would be seeing a flattening of curve soon but clearly it’s not happening. Keeping an eye on the mortality levels is absolutely crucial and what India has shown is that by having accessible care for at least some people it has been helpful in keeping the mortality rate down.

Dr Nabarro said that he thinks the flattening of the curve is delayed due to two reasons.

I think firstly, there has been a big increase in the availability of testing but at the same time. The doubling rate for the number of cases seems to be shortening, which means the virus is still moving not only in the urban areas but also beginning to get into the rural communities as well. This is a point of concern, especially as it is necessary to release the lockdown for economic and other reasons.

Secondly, Dr Nabarro says that we need to ensure that there is a good focus on the places where transmission is most intense. He added that the early imposing of a tough lockdown delayed the outbreak. Dr Nabarro also spoke about the early assumptions of the hot weather helping in slowing down the virus transmission, he said,

We had hopes that the virus would prove to be less easily transmitted due to the hot weather but that’s not the case. So our request is to continue the release of the lockdown and restart the economic activities because too many people were negatively affected by the lockdown. But at the same time, as life progresses please try to maintain the physical distancing as much as possible and please make certain that wherever possible public health services are strong enough to reduce the burden on hospitals.

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Dr Nabarro also highlighted that except for some hotspots, the percentage of tests that are proving positive has generally stayed quite low which he calls a good sign, he added,

But I have also seen that in Chennai for example, there has been an increase in levels of transmission which has required some local movement restrictions and that will be necessary from time to time to control the coronavirus.

Dr Nabarro also said that in general the government and the people in India know what the coronavirus is doing and that’s important, he explained,

Maintaining vigilance and focusing on its movement is important. We cannot reach a position where we think it’s time to relax physical distancing or other protection anytime soon.

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Dr Nabarro urges everyone to do what they can to maintain the behaviour that we know reduces the spread of this virus, particularly physical distancing, face protection, hygiene and so on.

We do know that it is possible to contain outbreaks of COVID but it is hard work and I would like to encourage everybody to maintain the alertness. It takes enormous efforts but it eventually comes down and we have to maintain that vigilance and handwork for a bit longer, he signed off.

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