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Brace up for second wave of COVID19, warns former union health secretary    

SRINAGAR: A top former health administrator has predicted a second wave of COVID 19 once the lockdown is lifted across the country.

K Sujatha Rao, former Secretary of Health, Government of India, warned of a surge in the cases once the normal life is restored. 

“Lockdown is an artificial cover. Once the lockdown goes and normal life is restored, the reality will be known. The surge will come definitely. You are bringing people from outside. People from cities are going to rural areas and vice versa. I expect a surge. There will be a second wave,” Rao told The Kashmir Monitor in an exclusive interview.

Rao, who retired in December 2010 as Union secretary of Health, recently released a highly acclaimed book, `Do We Care? India’s Health System’. An able health administrator, she is currently living in Hyderabad.

“As I said 75 percent of cases are in 13 cities. Some solid containment measures will be there. There will be a surge, but it won’t be all over the country,” she said.

India’s coronavirus cases crossed 1.73 lakh mark on Saturday. Of the 1,73,763 cases, 86,422 are active. Around 4,971 people have died and 82,370 patients have been cured.

Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Thane, Pune, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Indore, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Chengalpattu, and Thiruvallur (Tamil Nadu) constitute 70 percent of the total COVID 19 cases in the country.

According to official figures, Jammu and Kashmir has reported a total of 2036 cases till May 28. Of which, 1636 are from the valley.  Among the positive cases,   896 are travelers. Of whom 583 are from Kashmir.

Data from May 12 to 29 reveals a sudden spike in the cases. Figures reveal that Kulgam has seen a major spike from 42 cases to 255. It is followed by Kupwara, where the patient load increased from 73 to 237; 123 to 289 in Anantnag, 103 to149 in Shopian, and 117 to 198 in Srinagar, 134 to 145 in Bandipora, 109 to 169 in Baramulla and 46 to 89 in Budgam.

“They (government) should do more testing. They are trying to do. They must do. Testing, tracing, and isolating are the standard public health measures. How long will lockdown be there? We can’t afford it,” she said.

Rao said the migrant laborer crisis has been very unfortunate and tragic.  “Supreme Court has now stepped in. It has asked the states to take responsibility and send them home on buses and trains. We will have to see. Plus economic activity is starting and many laborers may not want to travel now. It is a fluid situation. We have to see what lies in store,” she said.