PGIMER Director Dr Jagat Ram, in a conversation with Hina Rohtaki, throws light on the facts related to Covid-19, expectations regarding the vaccine, and advice for the people as the situation deteriorates with the increasing cases of Covid-19.
There is a belief that asymptomatic patients cannot infect anyone. What is your opinion?
Any patient who is infected, be it symptomatic or asymptomatic, can infect anyone. It is a human-to-human transmission. A significant number of cases may be asymptomatic and that is why it is advised to avoid crowded places or follow distancing and wear masks. One has to exercise caution in every scenario, be it an asymptomatic person or someone with mild symptoms. People should not get lax and think that a person with mild symptoms cannot infect them.
As experts suggest that COVID-19 is an airborne disease, people are concerned if they have to wear masks inside the house as well?
The disease can spread through human-to-human transmission of droplets. The virus remains in the air for sometime like if someone sneezes. If the same people stay in the house throughout, it is not necessary to wear mask inside the house, but if someone is coming from outside in the house, like a help coming to prepare food in the kitchen, it is important that they wear masks throughout as they can leave the virus in the house, which can persist for quite some time.
How much time do you think it will actually take for the vaccine to be commercially available?
Vaccine is the only solution to this invisible virus. All the countries, be it Russia or Israel, are trying to come up with a vaccine and trials are underway, but the authenticity or efficacy of the vaccine is important. About the availability, it will depend from country-to-country, but in about three to six months after the completion of trials, it should be available.
There were cases detected where officials went to other states for celebration or to attend events without intimation. It is also said that they leave their phones at home.
Yes, several such cases have been detected where the officials went to other states for celebrations and did not intimate that they had moved out of Chandigarh for that period of time. They returned with infection. One has to be truthful to themselves because it will harm not just you but even your family and the people around you.
People have been holding celebrations including birthday parties and other events.This is absolutely no time for celebrations. Only work of emergency nature should be carried out. The number of cases are increasing because people are breaching the protocol laid out by the administration. I have seen people invite others to their home, even though it is not safe. Even the one who has been invited may not know that they are infected, but may end up infecting others.
Do you think Chandigarh is witnessing community spread?
It is difficult for me to say if there is community spread in the UT. I will not be able to say anything on it and may be someone from community medicine will be able to tell better. One has to be careful and break the chain by following the complete protocol. The fact is that cases have increased and that too, nationally.
Will it be wise to impose a brief lockdown in Chandigarh at this time?
It is completely an administrative decision whether to impose any lockdown or curfew. The fact is that cases are surging and we need to curb some relaxations, since many are not following the protocol.
What advice would you want to give to people?
I want to urge people to not become complacent. People are taking the situation lightly even when it has become grave and cases are increasing. People have become careless when it comes to following distancing or wearing mask. Cases are increasing each day. Move out only in case of emergency even if everything is opened. Office goers or those running a business should also follow the protocol. It is for their and everyone’s safety.