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‘If we are with someone for over 15 mins, talking without mask, chances of infection are very high’

According to Dr Amandeep Kang, Director Health Services, vaccine and masks are the only tools to prevent transmission of infection, and we cannot rely on natural immunity, which is less, to protect us or others.

Written by Parul | Chandigarh |
March 12, 2021 10:40:54 am
Dr Amandeep KangDr Amandeep Kang

The numbers are a cause for concern, with Chandigarh seeing a consistent rise in Covid cases, with 105 new cases reported on March 9, and the positivity rate now being 4.57 per cent, as compared to 1.4 per cent between February 8 and 14, the lowest after September.

The active cases till March 9 are 778, with testing ramped up, with as many as 13,657 samples collected in this month and 254291 tests done per million of the population.

“When the numbers of new cases came down significantly in February, there was a rampant feeling that Covid-19 is over, and people became casual about Covid appropriate behaviour, especially about wearing masks, not maintaining social distancing, stepping out in crowded places, attending large social functions et al. But as the rising numbers indicate, and as many of us had warned, our fight against the coronavirus is not over,” reflected Dr Amandeep Kang, Director Health Services.

If the new strains or variants are responsible for the rise in cases, Dr Kang said as if there were new strains, there would also be cases of reinfection, and also the people travelling to Chandigarh from abroad haven’t tested positive, so we cannot say it is the new variant. The need of the hour, emphasizes Dr Kang, is to avoid being in close contact with people without masks.

“If we are with someone for more than 15 minutes, and are talking without a mask, chances of infection are very high, in both open and closed spaces. So, if you are eating out, avoid closed spaces, avoid talking too much and maintain distance. While seasonal viral infections are on the rise, we must not ignore the symptoms of fever, cough, cold, body aches, diarrhea, and get ourselves tested, to prevent the spread of infection. These basic social responsibilities cannot be ignored. The young may feel they are protected, but they can be asymptomatic and pass on the infection to the more vulnerable. So, we have to take personal initiatives to check the transmission,” added Dr Amandeep Kang.

Seeking help when the symptoms first appear, can prevent complications and mortality, especially in the case of the elderly, for oxygen levels below 95 per cent can prove to be dangerous, so home isolation won’t work.

CT scan which shows the markers is essential to understand the severity of the disease, “If the CT score is ok, people can go home, else hospitalisation and correct treatment with steroids, anticoagulants etc is paramount, and must be done only in the hospital. If people come late to the hospital, and have to be put on ventilators, the consequences can be serious.”

Vaccine and masks, she says, are the only tools to prevent transmission of infection, and we cannot rely on natural immunity, which is less, to protect us or others. The efficacy of the vaccine is about 70 per cent and the immunity lasts for about 9 to 12 months, which means that by September, 60 to 70 per cent of our population must be vaccinated to stop disease transmission and generate herd immunity.

“Later, a booster dose may be started and like the flu shot this will also be given annually. This is a safe vaccine, with no serious side effects or any hospitalization reported. The senior citizens in the city have come forward in large numbers to opt for the vaccine, with more than 10,000 in the 60 plus category vaccinated and about 38000 people in all vaccinated so far. The need of the hour is that people in colonies must come forward to take the vaccine, for here because of the high clusters of population the spread of infection will be fast. We have set up a vaccination site in Dadu Majra, but only 40 to 50 people have taken the shot. They need to be motivated,” added the doctor.

With vaccination, the body fights back the infection better, the severity of the disease is less, the viral load will be lower, hospitalization will not be required, the mortality rate will come down, and the rate of transmission will also fall down drastically and the vaccine will also work on new variants. “After a surge, the new cases came down, and now the positivity rate is increasing again, which means that the phase of natural immunity is over and it is not a safe way to fight the disease. We have increased the vaccination sites from 18 to 35 sites, including 12 private facilitates and urge people in Babu Dham, Mauli Jagran, Mani Majra, Dadu Majra…to make use of the vaccination sites in their areas and get their shot at the earliest,” summed up Dr Kang.

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