Coronavirus Outbreak: Health experts' task force urges govt to review lockdown, impose cluster restrictions

A group of public health experts on Tuesday urged the Centre to consider reviewing the lockdown imposed to fight the coronavirus pandemic and replace it with cluster restrictions

Press Trust of India April 15, 2020 00:14:36 IST
Coronavirus Outbreak: Health experts' task force urges govt to review lockdown, impose cluster restrictions

New Delhi: A group of public health experts on Tuesday urged the Centre to consider reviewing the lockdown imposed to fight the coronavirus pandemic and replace it with cluster restrictions.

The 'Joint COVID-19 Task Force' constituted by Indian Public Health Association (IPHA) and Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine (IAPSM), in a statement, asked the government to also increase public awareness and preventive measures as well as to ensure that people maintain physical distancing while avoiding social stigma.

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Representational image. PTI

The 13-member task force includes doctors from AIIMS, PGIMER Chandigarh, professors from JNU and Banaras Hindu University and experts from the Public Health Foundation of India.

Proposing a 10-point action plan to fight the pandemic, it urged the government to ensure universal mask usage and to test, track and isolate with marked scaling up of diagnostic facilities. The experts called for Rapid Response Teams, strengthening intensive care capacity and optimal PPE for frontline health care workers.

"Deploy mobile (well-equipped with PPE) multidisciplinary Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) at district level coordinated by District Surveillance Officer (DSO) and supported by Epidemiologist and District Public Health Laboratory (with enough test kits).

"Nosocomial infection of COVD-19 is a serious challenge affecting safety and morale of health care providers (HCP). This is also an important mode of infection transmission amplification and acceleration once HCPs become 'super-spreaders'. Appropriate PPE must be provided to HCP to instill confidence and alternate teams identified to take care of attrition due to fatigue, exposure and quarantine," the JTF said.

It said a Public Health Commission with task-specific Working Groups may be urgently constituted to provide real-time technical inputs to the government and called for an increase in health expenditure to 5 percent of GDP and focus on strengthening the public health system.

"It is unrealistic that COVID-19 pandemic can be eliminated at this stage given that the entire population is susceptible. At this point of time no vaccine or known effective treatment for the disease is available, the task force said.

It said a realistic goal would be to spread out the disease over an extended period of time and effectively plan and manage so that the healthcare delivery system is not overwhelmed. "We urge the government of India to consider a 10-point action plan for control of the pandemic in India," the task force said.

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