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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Speak Out: Experts on what Chandigarh needs to do to control Covid-19

Chandigarh has been witnessing a relentless surge in Covid-19 cases. The Indian Express spoke to several heath and governance experts regarding their opinion on the measures that the city needs to take to control Covid-19 outbreak.

By: Express News Service | September 8, 2020 12:43:59 pm
The virus and other diseasesAt a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of the need to prepare themselves for unforeseeable times, we need to look at a more holistic approach and embrace innovations to manage the disease burden in our country. (Express Photo: Jasbir Malhi)

Chandigarh has been witnessing a relentless surge in Covid-19 cases. The Indian Express spoke to several heath and governance experts regarding their opinion on the measures that the city needs to take to control Covid-19 outbreak.

Dr Ramneek Bedi, Advisor, World Medical Association; National Vice President, IMA; Past President IMA, Chandigarh

Cases are likely to rise rapidly and for long. Uniform guidelines for the Tricity are must to curb infection. To strengthen the city’s stressed health infrastructure,
Administration should facilitate amalgamation of nursing homes on priority, under the new policy. Private doctors and nursing homes can share the load of patients. Chandigarh residents are forced to take treatment from neighbouring cities at present, for want of adequate facilitates in the city. If need be, five-day lockdown may be imposed to break the chain of spread. Weekend lockdowns have no scientific basis.

Dr Vikas Sharma, Chief Dermatologist National Skin Hospital

The stigma that was attached with Covid-19 positive cases had created a panic situation. Currently, the focus should be on having adequate facilities, good number of available beds in hospitals. Those who have mild symptoms should be allowed home isolation with adequate care and regular tele-consultations. Like Delhi, few hotels can be approached, if one wants good paid facilities.

Narinderjit Singh, IAS, Former State Information Commissioner

While testing and government action is crucial to combat Covid-19 crisis, a lot is needed to help prevent the spread of coronavirus in the community. It is important that everyone takes this illness seriously and so the local bodies and RWAs should be assigned more proactive roles. An IT enabled thorough check and monitoring should be in place so that persons in home isolation or quarantine in no way jump these.

Dr Hari Mohan Swami, Former Director Principal, Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh

Need of hour is to know the prevalence of infection in the community including different groups like health workers, police and those providing essential services, to contain this pandemic. Unfortunately, the present pandemic is being managed by bureaucrats not by public health experts, which has led to the present situation.There was no need to lockdown the city, putting public, especially senior citizens, into various hardships beyond imagination. Stress should have been given on contact tracing and containment and free-hand be given to the Public Health experts to manage this pandemic.

Dr Yogesh K Chawla, Former Director, PGI Chandigarh

The Covid-19 pandemic is not declining. In fact, it’s getting more serious. There are several reasons for this. The most significant reason is that people are not wearing mask. Please understand that the biggest protection is a well-fitting mask, not a loose handkerchief worn below the nose. Masks should be worn at all times outside and by any outsider who enters one’s house. The ‘chalta hai’ Indian attitude must go. Most infection spreaders are young people. They apparently do not fear death. But death from Covid-19 is painful, as ones lungs drown in water. Even those who are not afraid to die, would they like to be the cause of death of their parent, grandparent, spouse or child? So they need to stop being irresponsible. Mask is the biggest protection, and respect social distancing norms in queues at markets and elsewhere. Do not expect the police to ‘catch’ you – their job is to catch criminals, not teach people how to wear a mask. Patience is the key. Remain strong and soon enough this will be a past and you and your family will be safe.

Vinod Vashisht. Convener, CFORWO (City Forum of Residents Welfare Organisations)

As far as healthcare is concerned, this region stands at a very high pedestal. Chandigarh and Punjab, both are second best in the country among the large states and Union Territories, as per the latest overall health index report issued by the NITI Aayog. But unfortunately, Chandigarh is not able to contain the sharp surge in Covid-19 cases, which have been uninterruptedly rising for the last 80 days, with the current growth rate mounting to more than double the national average. The nuclei of Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) and National Capital Region (NCR) are managing very well, which have resulted in high recovery rates of 80-90 per cent in the regions’ cities and towns. The active ratio has gone down to less than 15 per cent against more than 35 per cent in Chandigarh. In a similar way, we expect the Chandigarh Administration to take full command for the Tricity without being influenced by any pressure groups. There should not be frequent flip-flop decisions, along with more local level synchronisation between Healthcare, Public Health and the Administrative officials. Let there be extensive random testing of people in all congested areas.

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