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WHO chief scientist cautions against full lockdown: ‘consequences are terrible’

“We have to manage the second wave before thinking of a third wave and till enough people are vaccinated, there definitely can be more waves in the pandemic,” said Dr Soumya Swaminathan.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune |
Updated: April 7, 2021 7:45:57 am
covid-19, covid cases india, india coronavirus, covid lockdown, who, who on covid lockdown, Covid-cases second wave, India news, indian express newsDr Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist of the World Health Organisation. (File)

Dr Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist of the World Health Organisation, has cautioned against a full lockdown. “The consequences are terrible,” Dr Swaminathan told The Indian Express even as she appealed to citizens to manage the second wave of the pandemic.

“We have to manage the second wave before thinking of a third wave and till enough people are vaccinated, there definitely can be more waves in the pandemic,” said Dr Swaminathan.

With the WHO advising a gap of 8-12 weeks between two doses of the Covishield vaccine, there is more scope for a larger number of beneficiaries to get inoculated. “Vaccination is not recommended yet for children but yes, the gap between two doses can be stretched to eight to 12 weeks,” said Dr Swaminathan.

April 7 is World Health Day and on the occasion, Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director of WHO, said that as a new wave of infection is spreading across the region, efforts must be made to accelerate vaccine rollouts.

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India is administering 26 lakh doses daily on an average, second only to USA, which is administering more than 30 lakh doses on an average per day.

Meanwhile, experts in Pune have also strongly objected to a lockdown. “Last year, even during the lockdown, Pune had many hotspots. As soon as the lockdown was lifted, albeit partially, the numbers started going up. Then there was a 10-day lockdown which did not help. Numbers went up even further. With community transmission rampant, during lockdown, the virus would still be spreading within smaller groups in a locality and as soon as the lockdown is lifted, it will spread even more rapidly as people tend to relax more after the stress of the lockdown,” Prof L S Shashidhara, a professor at IISER, Pune and Ashoka University, told The Indian Express.

Pune doctors hopeful of more beds for treating Covid patients

While a team of public health experts and clinicians will visit 30 districts in Maharashtra and assist health authorities on various aspects like strengthening hospital infrastructure, assessing testing and contact tracing measures and others, doctors in Pune are hopeful that by next week, more hospitals will join the effort to treat Covid-19 patients.

Dr Dhananjay Kelkar, medical director of Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital, told The Indian Express that Covid-19 variants have led to larger infectivity among the number of people and hence there is more panic. “Needless to say, the government has to take some steps to restrict Covid-19 spread as the pressure is on private hospitals. The good things now is that many small hospitals are becoming Covid centres. Last year, there was a huge scare and several facilities had displayed boards stating they were not Covid hospitals… but this time, more than 25 small hospitals have come forward and we can expect more beds opening up in Pune for treating Covid-19 patients. Currently, there are 4,000 beds in Pune city and all hospitals have been increasing the bed strength daily,” said Dr Kelkar.

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