What is stage 3 pandemic?
The third stage of the Coronavirus pandemic refers to the situation where the disease transmission starts on a community level, and it is no longer possible to identify the source of infection. Until now, despite the rising numbers, India has still remained in the Stage 2 wherein the infection is reported among people who have either arrived from a foreign country or those who came in contact with such identifiable infected people.
As on the 4th of April 2020, the total number of infected people is close to 3000 cases with 68 fatalities.
What happen if India enters in stage 3 of pandemic
Stage 3 of this pandemic could be really difficult to control since it is no longer possible to identify and isolate the source of infection. We have seen many countries such as China, Italy, Spain, and Iran reach community transmission stage. If India reaches this stage then the number of infected people would rise exponentially and from a few thousand the numbers could inflate to lakhs in a matter of days.
The community outbreak would also be a logistical nightmare as the country would need to ramp up the medical infrastructure rapidly by creating a lot of isolation and quarantine facilities. The authorities are building infrastructure to deal with the kind of surge that stage 3 of COVID-19 is likely to cause. The testing facilities would have to be increased and already a large number of private labs have been approved by the authorities to conduct COVID-19 tests. Indian Railways has announced that it would be able to provide about 80,000 isolation beds within the next two weeks by converting its train coaches into such facilities.
What are the measures to avoid stage 3 in India?
Infrastructure-wise, India is not very capable of handling the patient volumes that the community outbreak of COVID-19 might cause. The government had implemented various measures such as airport screening of people arriving from foreign countries in early March. Subsequently, all modes of passenger transport have been suspended and India has sealed its borders.
The public has been cautioned to stay indoors and all kinds of crowding, community gathering etc have been prohibited. These steps are aimed at preventing or at least delaying the community outbreak until adequate infrastructure and resources are put in place.
Another key measure during the stage 2 is to test as many symptomatic people as possible and to quarantine anyone showing even mild symptoms of COVID-19
. Disinfecting public places, isolating hotspots from where cases are reported and suspension of all non-essential services have been the steps that have been taken so far in this direction.