Dr K K Aggarwal
There have been doubts whether the pre-emptive lockdown of the entire nation along with complete travel restrictions is India’s only chance against the deadly coronavirus disease. The answer is yes; with rigorous testing the lockdown can help India in curtailing the spread and rate of the virus infection.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on 24th March, 2020 that the country would be observing a total lockdown preventing Indians other than those involved in essential services from venturing outside their homes to combat the spread of coronavirus. This is an unprecedented and perhaps the largest restriction on the movement of the people in an attempt to prevent the community spread of infection.
There have been evidences suggesting that once the virus starts circulating in the community (in other words, when it is difficult to track down the source of the infection) the lockdown of an area to prevent infected persons coming in contact with others is efficient in restraining its spread.
India is currently in stage II of the infection when there is local transmission of cases reported where a section of people testing positive is due to having come in contact with a laboratory positive person who had a travel history.
WHO has recently stated that the epicenter of the pandemic has now shifted from Asia to Europe. Countries like China, Singapore and South Korea adopted public health measures of coupling restrictions with rigorous measures to test every possible suspect with the outcome of suppressing the transmission to a significant extent.
WHO recommends focusing on finding all those who are symptomatic, asymptomatic or even suspected to be infected, find their contacts and isolate them.
In my opinion we have to combine lockdown with ‘test, test, test’ methodology. Government has opened the testing facility for the private sector.
Taking a cue from countries like South Korea and Singapore, it is important that in the upcoming seven days all asymptomatic cases should be picked up, and they are quarantined/isolated for the next two weeks.
If you have any doubt or have fever or cough, get yourself tested. Even if you are doubtful whether your symptoms are of flu or not, you should get tested. Government should implement measures to rigorously test during the first seven days of the lockdown to pick up every asymptomatic case,
quarantine/isolate them for the next 14 days, so that at the end of the lockdown we should be able to bring the disease under check.