Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Time to shift focus to death prevention

Now that the numbers of Covid-19 positive cases and fatalities have been increasing consistently and the daily increase in the number of cases has crossed even 11,000 mark, this is the right time to shift gears and focus more on prevention of deaths than on contact tracing and random testing.

The lockdown phase was necessary because it gave us ample time to streamline health infrastructure and prepare for a time when the cases would surge rapidly causing immense duress for the health care facilities.

While, test, test, and test more, has been a much talked about strategy in the initial stage, this has never meant much for a country like India, where people live in close proximity and contact tracing is unlikely to be a long-term strategy. India has been criticised early on for fewer testing and many experts have been saying that the number of positive cases in India is likely to be much more than what is being projected.

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This is not necessarily something that we should lament. Because more hidden cases also mean that our death rate is very low.

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With the number of positive cases rising fast in many big cities of the country, beyond a point, it would be a meaningless effort to test random persons or even try to do complete contact tracing. Instead, experts feel, in such big dense population clusters and cities, it would be more advisable to focus on death prevention and treatment of people in serious conditions and with co-morbidities.

Lockdown strategy has worked well for the country in all respects. Now is the time to have a different strategy for the post unlock period too. And that strategy must focus on keeping the death toll at the minimum.

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