Containing the contagion

We will have to pay dearly if we miss this last chance

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There were no proper plans to contain the coronavirus outbreak since the very beginning. The ones undertaken, however, were not properly implemented either. The problem was not considered with foresight. The last few days we are hearing that zone-wise hotspots will be introduced so that the spread of the infection could be controlled, but there has hardly been any implementation. If we waste time to do this it would be harder to control such a pandemic. Examples abound across countries.

Countries that implemented proper coronavirus containing strategies fast have succeeded. Those slack in response had to pay a high price. The US, Brazil and Iran are among such countries. The same is happening here. We couldn’t do the proper thing earlier. If we again fail to identify the hotspots in the country simultaneously and implement coordinated measures we will not succeed in terms of containing the pandemic.

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Another opportunity emerged when the prime minister issued guidelines to mark red, yellow and green zones. Several entities, including the housing and public works ministry, the home ministry and the army are involved in the process. Though the health department (health and family welfare ministry and Directorate General of Health Services) should have led the process, it is not being successful to synchronise their work. There is lack in leadership, too.

It must not be forgotten that this is a public health issue. All must work together and the health department must lead. Earlier, each implemented quarantine, isolation, lockdown and so on, but these were not effective due to lack of coordination.

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In this backdrop, the health department should lead effectively. It has all the zone-wise information regarding the infected persons. They should identify red, yellow and green zones according to the intensity of the outbreak without any delay. Then, all-out efforts must be initiated to contain the contagion at the red zones. It must be ensured that the initiative does not become ineffective.

The last opportunity to contain the widespread infection will be missed if we fail to do this. We will have to pay a huge price. The hospitals in the country will not be able to provide treatment for the surging patients.

*Be-Nazir Ahmed is a communicable disease expert

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