Govt mulls lockdown extension amid requests from the StatesApprox Read Time: 6 minutes
In News: Govt mulls lockdown extension
- The Union government has indicated that it was actively considering an extension of the 21-day nationwide lockdown as many States and experts have openly appealed for its continuation due to a rise in Covid-19 cases.
- Officials have cautioned that even a relatively moderate infection curve may not be enough to allow the government to lift restrictions, as the possibility of a revival in infections if free movement of people was permitted could not be ruled out.
- The number of Covid-19 affected districts increased from 62 on March 20 to 284 on April 6 across 30 States and Union Territories. There are 718 districts, spread over 28 States and eight UTs, in the country.
- Suggestions have been made to close all the borders of States, while allowing certain activities within districts to some extent.
- Other suggestions include lifting of the lockdown in in three-four phases, in a graded manner, wherein, farmers are allowed to harvest their crops but schools and colleges continue to remain closed.
- As per the Group of Ministers (GoM), formed to review the situation, places such as religious centres, where people have a tendency to gather in large numbers, should be closely monitored and such gatherings should be prevented.
Infectivity trends of Covid-19:
- According to an ICMR study, if one person does not follow lockdown and social distancing norms, he can infect 406 people in 30 days.
- However, if social exposure is reduced by 75%, then the same infected person can spread it to just 2.5 people.
- At present, the mathematical component that represents the number of persons to whom an infected person can spread the disease is between 1.5 to 4 for Covid-19.
- Citing the study, the Health Ministry has underlined the importance of observing the national lockdown and appealed everyone to follow the lockdown and social distancing measures.
- However, recent reports also suggest that the novel coronavirus often infects clusters of family members and friends.
- In China, almost 80% of the transmission appears to have occurred within families and a similar pattern has been reported in the United States, too.
- These trends assume significance in India where family members often stay together and members comprise different age groups, making social distancing a difficult proposition.
- While the elderly are at a higher risk of severe illness from the disease, the younger members of their family are more likely to be asymptomatic carriers.
Classification of Hospitals for treatment:
- To streamline the treatment of Covid-19 patients, the government has classified hospitals into three categories:
- Covid Care Centres to treat very mild, mild and suspect cases.
- Covid Health Centres for clinically moderate level serious patients.
- Dedicated Covid Hospitals to provide comprehensive care to severe and critical patients.
- A Covid Care Centre can be a makeshift arrangement or a hostel or school premises.
- A Covid Health Centre has to be a hospital or a dedicated block with separate entry and exit to avoid a risk of infection. These facilities, which will monitor Covid-confirmed cases with moderate level of illness, will also need to have beds with assured oxygen support.
- A dedicated Covid Hospital — which will treat only critically ill patients — will also be a full hospital or a block fully equipped with ICU, ventilators and beds with oxygen support. These hospitals will have separate areas for suspect and confirmed cases. Suspect and confirmed cases should not be allowed to mix under any circumstances.
- Official data suggests nearly 70% of cases affected with Covid-19 either exhibit mild or very mild symptoms. Hence, the Covid Care Centres and Health Centres will play a significant role in dealing with a majority of patients.
- The purpose is to put in place SOPs to ensure optimal utilization of available resources and thereby providing appropriate care to all Covid-19 patients.
Efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19:
- The government has adopted two strategies for Covid-19 management. One is cluster containment strategy and the other strategy is for ‘outbreak which is amenable to management’, which is implemented, when cases are higher in a particular area.
- Technology-led initiatives have been deployed for undertaking surveillance, monitoring quarantine facilities, tracking the health of suspected patients and their contacts placed under home quarantine.
- The monitoring system has also provided up-to-date information to citizens, using heat maps, real-time tracking of ambulances, disinfection services, virtual training to doctors and healthcare professionals and tele-counselling.
Impact of the containment efforts:
- There is cautious optimism in government that the targeted strategies to manage Covid-19 hotspots and high risk zones are paying off with the infection rate remaining within limits.
- The efforts of the Centre, along with states, to intensively track thousands of Tablighi members and their contacts are seen to have been effective and there is guarded hope that the worst of the incident may have been addressed.
- The strategies of isolation and containment used in areas like Worli and Wockhart Hospital in Mumbai, villages in Palwal and Nuh in Haryana or at Bhilwara in Rajasthan are seen to be valuable lessons in preventing a virulent local transmission getting out of hand.