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Flattening the curve: Health experts warn against premature end to lockdown

Srinagar: Health experts in the valley are not much optimistic about the slowing of doubling rate after the gradual lifting of lockdown post-May 3.

Doubling time is an epidemiological metric of how long the infectious disease takes for the number of cases to double.

 

On Monday, the Health Ministry said the doubling time is 7.5 days up from 3.4 before the lockdown. The government hopes that it will increase to 10 days by the end of the week, and 12 days by the first week of May.

However, medicos and healthcare professionals in the valley said minimum testing capability and resuming airline operations and interstate transport can lead to a surge in positive cases.

“Our testing capability is not so aggressive and there can be many asymptomatic carriers of the disease who might remain unconfirmed during the lockdown period. Just one positive case can bring the doubling time to 2-3 days and send a particular locality back to a red zone,” a senior doctor at GMC, Srinagar said.

He cited the example of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh where the exponential growth of the virus is high.

“Resuming airline operation and interstate transport movement can prove costly if the proper measures are not taken,” he said.

Another community health expert at GMC, Srinagar, said to ensure the curve remains flattened, the guidelines need to be strictly followed.

“The risk factor, surveillance strategy, and testing approach decide the number of cases. The administration should try to collect 90 percent of samples in hotspot and restricted areas before the lockdown ends,” he said.

He noted that people especially from the agrarian community who venture out frequently should be extra careful. 

“They should hire a laborer for farming activities from their locality. A single person from another area can lead to multiple cases,” he said.

Quoting the guidelines of Health Ministry, Epidemiologist, Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme, Kashmir, Dr. Manzoor Qadri said the criteria for lifting the lockdown post-May 3, is divided into red, orange and green zones

“In red zones, where the majority of the cases are reported in the valley, the containment operation would be deemed over when there is no case reported in 28 days from an area after the last case tests negative,” he said

Dr. Manzoor noted that the hotspots (designated red zones) will be assumed to be undertaking effective containment activities if no case is reported in the next 14 days (designated orange zones).

“Finally if no case is reported for 28 days, the area will be declared as a green zone,” he said.

Director Health Services Kashmir Dr. Sameer Mattoo said the administration had adopted a strategy of aggressive testing.

“This will help us to control the disease from spreading in the coming times. We are presently conducting 800 tests per day,” Dr. Sameer said.