Will short-term lockdowns help in controlling COVID-19? Here’s what AIIMS director Randeep Guleria said

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Updated: Jul 10, 2020 10:22 PM

The AIIMS director noted that a lockdown has to be at least 14 days to stop the virus from spreading.

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Lockdown India Latest News: Short-term lockdowns will not be of any help in arresting the transmission of coronavirus, AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria said on Friday as cities like Pune in Maharashtra announced shutdowns of up to 10 days to stem the spread of the pandemic.

The AIIMS director noted that a lockdown has to be at least 14 days to stop the virus from spreading.

Speaking at an economics conference organised by SBI, Guleria said the trend of rising new infections will flatten or come down in the next few weeks in major cities while it will take longer for the overall new infections to come down.

The remarks come at a time when India is reporting over 23,000 new cases a day, but cities like Mumbai seem to have flattened out by adding lesser number of new cases than the peak.

Also Read: Karnataka COVID-19 tally: Biggest single-day spike of 2,313 cases; 1,447 from Bengaluru urban

Hours earlier, authorities announced a 10-day lockdown in Pune, adjoining industrial town of Pimpri-Chinchwad and other areas from July 14 while the curbs were extended Thane, a suburb of financial capital, till July 19.

“Very short duration lockdowns have no use for breaking the chain of transmission at all. You need to have social distancing. People forget all the things when lockdown gets lifted. You have to closely monitor clusters and containment. It (lockdown) has to be at least 14 days to stop the virus from spreading,” Guleria said.

Rather than having city-wide lockdowns, we can look at putting specific zones into containment to restrict the spread of the virus, he suggested.

He said cases in Delhi have come down now from their peaks and added that the premier institute has less than 500 people admitted right now as against a peak of 800 which makes him believe that “major cities will see some flattening or decline, but it will take some time”.

Delhi used to have over 4,000 cases a day, which has now come down less than 3,000, he said, adding “there is some flattening”. However, the only worry from here is how is the same sustained, he said, citing examples like the ones in the US, where cases have again shot up to over 40,000 a day as people started mingling up.

The medical expert added that infection control will be the “new normal” and the entire population has to act very responsibly after the lockdowns are lifted by following social distancing, wearing masks and observing the best hygiene practices in public.

One must not let their guard down even when the situation opens up, he said, stressing that if we are responsible, we can have more parts of the economy open up as well.

He acknowledged that it is a challenging time for the country as there is an economic cost of the lockdowns which has impacted some industries like tourism in a big way but added that information technology and media have done well.

Guleria said from a patient care perspective, it is only oxygen therapy and use of steroids which are the best bets for the medical fraternity and early admission of a patient is of utmost importance.

To a question on the efficacy of expensive drugs, he said drugs “being touted” like plasma therapy, remdesivir, tocilizumab have not shown any benefit even internationally.

The focus needs to be on good and timely diagnosis of the patients and doing so can help decrease the mortality rate, he said, adding that the target is to get the death rate down to 1 per cent as against the present 2.7 per cent.

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