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Monday, August 10, 2020

Experts: Lockdown unfortunate, will not stop infections

With the number of cases expected to touch 35,000 and Pune to soon register 1,000 deaths, experts advised that social distancing is the best way to prevent infections, especially when the city’s health care system is being overwhelmed.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune | Updated: July 11, 2020 1:11:30 pm
pune coronavirus news update, pune covid-19 cases, pune 10 day lockdown, pune new lockdown, pimpri chinchwad lockdown, indian express news Some health experts, however, pointed out that there has been a backlog of testing samples and contact tracing, which, according to standards, should be in the ratio 1:20. (Representational)

While for most hospitals, a second lockdown may temporarily offer respite and help bring down Covid-19 infections, several experts have termed the decision as ‘unfortunate’. Prof L S Shashidhara, professor at IISER, Pune, who recently moved to Ashoka University, said the lockdown is unfortunate and is not going to stop the infection.

“This will just give some breathing time for augmenting Covid care centres to provide better care and in making contact tracing more effective. Self-distancing, wearing masks and self-isolation, if a person is found symptomatic, is crucial. Those who have symptoms and do not report will continue to spread the infection. If these people come early and isolate themselves it will help reduce the spread of the infection and save lives,” Prof Shashidhara said. He urged people to cooperate, as lockdowns are not a solution to deal with this crisis. “It has its own impact on the livelihood of poor people, which will only aggravate the problem,” he said.

The main aim of any lockdown is to reduce the rate of infection. According to health experts, the RO (basic reproduction number or R naught-number of people who can contract a disease from one infected person) is very high in Pune. With the number of cases expected to touch 35,000 and Pune to soon register 1,000 deaths, experts advised that social distancing is the best way to prevent infections, especially when the city’s health care system is being overwhelmed. Some health experts, however, pointed out that there has been a backlog of testing samples and contact tracing, which, according to standards, should be in the ratio 1:20. In Pune, it is somewhere in the range of 1:6.

Dr Shashank Joshi, an expert on the state Covid-19 task force, strongly felt the lockdown was never seriously followed in Pune. “Almost all wards show a spurt in cases, even in green zones where there were no cases. Among some problems is that of inadequate contact tracing due to stigmatisation,” he said. People have to come forward, get tested and remain in isolation. That is the only way to stop the spread and break the chain of transmission, he added.

Dr Dhananjay Kelkar, medical director at Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital, however, felt that a temporary lockdown may slow down the spread of the transmission. “We are facing multiple challenges, as during monsoon, patients will start getting worried about whether they are infected with seasonal flu or the virus,” he said.

 Traders oppose lockdown

At the Federation of Trade Association of Pune, secretary Mahendra Pitaliya said the trading community has strongly opposed this lockdown. “We faced a stressful situation during the previous lockdown and have strongly urged the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister to reconsider the situation,” Pitaliya said.

Kiran Moghe, president of Pune Zilha Gharkamgar Sanghatana said a second lockdown may have been necessitated by the huge surge in Covid-19 cases, but it means more hardship for the working poor. “There should be simultaneous provision for food and other essentials like ration kits and cash transfers. Without livelihood, people will die of starvation,” Moghe said.

‘Won’t ensure Covid-free Pune’

“We know the virus is here to stay and this lockdown is not going to ensure a coronavirus free Pune,” District Collector Naval Kishore Ram told The Indian Express.

“We do not want to cause any hardship to citizens, and, in fact, our workload has doubled,” he said, adding that they were not in favour of a lockdown. “There has been an upsurge of cases and we want to ensure contact tracing, isolation and treatment. This will break the chain of transmission,” the collector said.

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