By – Dr Sudarshan Ballal
With an exponential rise in Covid-19 cases — more than one lakh per day — the serious question that is being asked in all circles is: Are we heading for a second lockdown?
The answer is very simple, if we analyse the root cause for this. The rapid surge in Covid cases has been due to letting our guard down and throwing caution to the winds. Though there are multiple mutations in the virus that have been detected both abroad and within the country, the primary reason for the spread of the disease is Covid-inappropriate behaviour.
The only way of controlling this pandemic is rigorous implementation of Covid-appropriate behaviour such as masking, social distancing, hand washing and avoiding crowds. The government should come down heavily on large gatherings, be it political rallies, protests, religious congregations, private functions, crowds in public places, marketplaces, malls, theatres and pubs.
Another very important tool in our armamentarium to battle Covid is mass vaccination. We need to aggressively accelerate the vaccination programme, making it much simpler for the public to get vaccinated both in a hospital setting and outside.
The process should be as simple as anyone walking into a clinic, hospital or requesting the doctor for vaccination, so that a large number of people can be vaccinated in a short period.
It is also important to vaccinate all adults above the age of 18, if logistics can be managed, because what we have seen during this pandemic is that many from the younger population are getting infected, having mild symptoms, but likely to spread them to people in the older age group and those with comorbidities. With the huge increase in the number of Covid patients, there obviously will be a significant strain on the healthcare system and availability of Covid beds in hospitals.
Another very important lesson we have learnt from the past is that Covid treatment had severely affected care of non-Covid patients and a lot of them succumbed to illnesses because they could not get care at hospitals during the pandemic. It is indeed very sad that we sacrifice a non-Covid related life to save a Covid patient. All lives are precious and hence we should make an all-out effort to ensure non-Covid patients do not suffer.
My earnest request to the public is to indulge in Covid-appropriate behaviour, get vaccinated and let all of us work together to control the second surge of the pandemic before it overwhelms the system and forces the government to impose another lockdown, which can be catastrophic for the country and may push us back into the Stone Age, from where we may never recover.
The writer is chairman, Manipal Hospitals
By – Dr Sudarshan Ballal