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Acting against COVID-19

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Aggressive action on cluster infection cases can act as speed breaker: Experts

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New Delhi: The identification of cluster infections can act as a speed breaker in the rising curve of COVID-19 cases if vigorous tracing and isolation of people in these hotspots is carried out, according to some experts, while others see it as indicative of start of community transmission in the country.
Professor K Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India, said that emergence of clusters can act like smoke detectors and a very important signal for strongly focused efforts for case and contact tracing and effective measures to quickly isolate them to prevent further spread.
“These alerts are like smoke detectors which help us to prevent a major fire. Very energetic pursuit of the cases and contacts of the recently detected Delhi cluster and its outflow is being undertaken with speed and efficiency.
“This will act as a speed breaker on the rising curve of infected persons and help our overall response to contain COVID 19,” Reddy said.
As many as 386 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in last 24 hours, taking total number of cases to 1,637 in the country on Wednesday. While 146 new coronavirus cases were reported on Tuesday, the figure was 227 a day earlier.
The latest spurt has been attributed to a religious congregation, Tabligh-e-Jamaat’s Markaz, in Nizamuddin West in Delhi where thousands of people had gathered last month from the country and abroad, and later visited many states. Authorities are now frantically looking for these people and all those who came in contact with them so that they can be quarantined.
Aggressive measures have to be initiated for the containment of the spread of the disease in the community, said Dr Chandrakant S Pandav, former president of Indian Public Health Association and Indian Association of Preventive and social medicine, also the former HOD of the Centre for Community Medicine at AIIMS New Delhi.
“It is necessary to stamp out the spark in the initial phases or it will spread like a wild fire,” he said.
Other experts sounded a word of caution. They said the rise in clusters could be indicative that the virus may have transmitted within the community.
Professor Puneet Mishra, Professor of Community Medicine at AIIMS, blamed irresponsible behaviour on the part of some citizens for the appearance of these clusters where several people together have been found to have contracted the respiratory ailment.
“Because of the irresponsible behaviour of some citizens, now government has to move more resources towards tracing individuals who had come in contact with them,” Dr Mishra said, adding people have to understand it is not just the responsibility of the government, but also of each and every citizen to follow the advisories and guidelines issued by the government.
“Emergence of such clusters are indicative that the disease may have spread within the community and now it is just a matter of how rapidly it will transmit.
“Widespread transmission will make the tracking and isolation more difficult and eventually overwhelm the entire healthcare system,” said Pandav.
Echoing him, former AIIMS Director Dr M C Mishra said intensive efforts in terms of rigorous contact tracing and testing have to be done.
Citing the example of the Nizamuddin episode, Mishra said that such rise in clusters are clear indication of the country progressing towards community transmission.
“It will be very difficult now for authorities to track down the people they have met as these people have travelled to various cities in Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, UP and Jammu and Kashmir.
“It was a time bomb which has exploded and we have to now trace where all the splinters have fallen,” he stated. (PTI)

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