Millennium Post

On alert!

On alert!

Just on Monday, we had two new cases of the globally concerning 'COVID-19' and on Thursday, the figure stood at 30. With exemplary containment and handling of the initial three cases of Coronavirus in the country, Kerala has set the benchmark that other states ought to follow. Yet, Kerala happens to be amongst the best of the lot when it comes to such situations. The concern is bigger for states with more population that puts more people at risk, and high population density that threatens expedited proliferation of virus amongst masses. Ever since the cases were reported in Delhi and Hyderabad, the health ministry has sprung into action, prioritising preventive measures and preparing for containment of the virus. Union Health Minister expressed confidence in country's preparation to combat the virus. In Parliament on Thursday, Harsh Vardhan cited that as of Thursday, at least 28,529 persons were on community surveillance with the prime minister closely reviewing the situation. The figure arises from the cluster approach that the government has taken to identify possible carriers based on their interaction with those infected who have been already quarantined. Indian Army and ITBP have expeditiously set up quarantine facilities at Chhawla and Manesar. The Health Ministry notified the involvement of District Collectors to form rapid response teams at the district, block and village levels to contain and monitor the situation. All states and UTs will also be assessing the availability and production of active pharmaceutical ingredients required for those infected in order to ensure buffer stock and prevent black marketing and hoarding. In addition to on-ground preparation, there is a constant need to prevent more infected persons from infecting masses. The number of screening centres for passengers has tremendously risen and will now be including seaports as well. Emergency guidelines have been issued across the country via newspapers, media, radio, television, etc., as mass awareness will benefit in keeping the virus outbreak at bay. Union Health Ministry has to play a pivotal role in monitoring the situation even as it has to constantly deploy resources and personnel.

While the number of infected may have risen, India has been lucky in one aspect. All sources of the virus in our land have been duly tracked and subsequent steps have been initiated to monitor the sources as well as possible spread. The cluster approach is particularly useful here. Had the source not been known, there would have been utter panic on where to begin or how to segregate those infected from those still not. China faced an outright catastrophe with the sporadic and powerful spread of the virus in its epicentre — Wuhan. It is a great advantage as it will enable us to prevent any proliferation of the virus while focussing on treating those who are currently quarantined. At the same time, screening centres tasked with identification of possible carriers of the virus require to work efficiently around the clock, not enabling even a single case to slip by. It is also expected of those with symptoms and travel histories to infected countries to approach medical centres assigned the task of handling COVID-19 and ensuring no interaction with people to avoid any possible transmission. As long as we know the source, and can narrow down the cluster to be tested, the Coronavirus can be contained and a devastating outbreak can be prevented. Advisories to citizens over precautionary measures is the last leg of preventive exercise that we can practice. With politicos setting the precedent, avoiding mass gatherings at places under the radar such as Delhi during the festival of Holi is recommended. As individuals of society, we can complement the effort of the health ministry by ensuring precautionary measures on our end. While no deaths have been reported due to the Coronavirus in the country yet, global news does not offer much motivation. It is perhaps important to, therefore, exercise all possible precautions. It would be prudent on the health ministry's part to increase the number of labs equipped with testing facilities while active efforts are carried on to restrict the spread of COVID-19. Apart from the conventional high-interaction between people in the country, episodes of protests are also a cause for concern. It must be noted that comprehensive effort to exercise precaution will be key to prevention of widespread transmission. As the government undertakes all efforts to secure the situation and prevent any outbreak, the citizenry must stay informed and alert for any level of quarantine.

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