Another lockdown will only delay case surge in Karnataka: Dr MK Sudarshan

Karnataka government’s Covid-19 technical advisory committee chairman Dr MK Sudarshan thinks the state was not prepared to handle when Covid cases suddenly surged in recent days. However, the decision to provide remote medical care to asymptomatic patients under home quarantine will free up hospital beds and ease the stress on the healthcare system, he tells ET’s Akshatha M. Edited excerpts:

The sudden surge in the Covid cases in Bengaluru seems to have caught you all off guard
We were, in fact, expecting a marginal rise in cases after unlocking began. But what happened in the last one month was beyond our expectations. This is because of non-compliance with basic hygiene practices by people like wearing masks and keeping social distance. We were not prepared to handle this kind of a situation though we saw how the situation worsened in Mumbai and Delhi. The system was not streamlined to handle the increases and that is why, I say, we failed.

Do you think the government can still control the situation?
We saw a shortage of hospital beds because they have been occupied by large number of asymptomatic patients with mild conditions. The state government’s decision to home-isolate Covid-positive persons with mild or no symptoms and setting up Covid care centres will free up hospital beds. However, streamlining of the system will still take a couple of weeks. Home isolation may initially see resistance from family members and neighbours, but it requires societal acceptance to succeed. Once hospitals are decongested, only those patients who are in genuine need of medical intervention will occupy hospital beds.

Who should be tested going forward?
We should limit our testing to symptomatic people. Even primary contacts of Covid-positive cases should be tested only if they show symptoms.

We should continue with the system of contact surveillance, but not test all primary contacts. The government should also aggressively test vulnerable groups such as frontline workers, shop keepers, and municipal workers.

The rise in the number of Covid-related deaths in Bengaluru is worrying citizens
Deaths are caused mainly due to delay by patients in seeking medical care and, also due to non-availability or non-allotment of beds. Many incidents were reported over the last week, where hospitals have refused admission for lack of beds or treatment facilities. This has to be immediately set right. Hospitals should not deny medical care to anyone. Even patients should not wait till their condition gets worse to reach out to hospitals.

Are you in favour of another lockdown to control the infection in Bengaluru
Lockdown will not serve any purpose, except that it will delay the surge by a few weeks. The question of lockdown cannot arise when the state has reopened economic activities. Sudden rise in cases has affected us, but things are slowly falling into place.


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