Curbing Coronavirus Disease With All Might: Why It Matters To India The news of people reporting coronavirus symptoms breaking out in India enforced a call of action at the community level

By Michael Song

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Akin to our military and paramilitary forces, "travel security force' is the new terminology being implemented by national agencies, embassies and authorities to tackle and uproot coronavirus disease from the nation.

The news of people reporting coronavirus symptoms breaking out in India enforced a call of action at the community level. A group of ministers (GoM) had a dialogue on Monday soon after the news blew up. The health minister said while the Indian government has already suspended travel to China and Iran, it will be suspending more travel visas to eliminate the probability of the coronavirus disease outbreak. The minister further advised Indians to avoid peripheral travels or meet people from different physical areas across the world and should avoid partaking in events with multitude gatherings to eliminate the exposure to the lethal virus.

The enforcements by the travel security are climacteric for India. As a country with stumbling block at every level, we are not primed to undertake the epidemic of coronavirus disease. When it comes to treat disease with throng of magnitude, we are archaic in terms of medical infrastructure, laboratory facilities and treatment, and medicine accessibility.

Also Read: 5 Business Sectors Affected Due To Coronavirus Disease Outbreak

When it comes to fighting coronavirus disease, preventative measures is the best cure for India right now.

Travel Security Forces Across the World

Around 83 countries and territories have imposed some form of travel restriction against China as of February 19. The various restrictions include:

  • Border closures: Partial or total closure of land border with China; this includes Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Afghanistan and Indian territories.
  • Entry and exit bans: Restricting the ability of citizens or foreigners to make tracks and turn up from their respective countries for travel to China after traveling from or transiting through China.
  • Visa restrictions: Include total or partial visa suspensions or restrictions, such as halting visa on arrival programmes.

. Flight suspensions: Several countries are strictly monitoring entrants from China, as it is the first point of virus entry to their respective nations. High investments have been made to build infrastructure that will detect the people with coronavirus symptoms.

Also Read: How Businesses Should Handle the Coronavirus Outbreak

India's Deplorable State of Medical Infrastructure

China was highly praised by the WHO for its aggressive and quick approach to control COVID-19. The country efficiently established a massive 645,000 sq. ft emergency hospital at the epicentre Wuhan within a span of mere 10 days. The two-storeyed hospital has 30 intensive care units (ICUs), over 1,000 beds and special corridors to restrict the patient-nurse contact. A second hospital is already in the making. For India to build this underpinning will take a good deal of time.

Critical cases who have viral pneumonia will require supportive intensive care, including mechanical ventilation. While hospitals in the metro cities can still provide this, small towns and rural areas in most states will be ill-equipped to provide care.

Our passive approach of medical infrastructure can be calculated by citing that in 2012, there was a proposal to set up 150 diagnostic and research laboratories equipped with virology-related expertise. Of these, only a mere strength of 80 is operable now, and this number is far from being passable. These labs stand alone and not linked to the public health response system.

Also Read: How to Talk to About Coronavirus at Work

India doesn't even chart on the list when handling an accumulated emergency and pursuing its precedence research. This is one of the reasons why the Nipah virus claimed 17 lives in Kerala in 2018. The shortage of study and research on virology and taxonomy on native bats made it difficult to understand the potency of the virus. Kerala has learnt the lesson and already declared 2019-nCoV a state calamity and has kept over 2,000 people under surveillance.

A renowned school in Noida has been closed for three days already as the coronavirus disease scare spread a day after a student's father was detected with the infection. The school is said to be undergoing fumigation and sanitisation to eliminate exposure.

Inference on India

If the virus does spreads in India in the same magnitude as in Wuhan, the impact on the economy, healthcare and public spirit could be shattering. India has one of the world's highest population densities, especially when it comes to urban cities such as Delhi and Mumbai.

WHO recommends maintaining a 3 feet distance between individuals but this will be impossible to achieve, nor will a lockdown of the entire city be possible such as in Wuhan. We expect a shortage of food and medicines, depression, even theft, panic and misinformation. There are already some media reports of families returning to China being 'shunned'. We don't know the reality of it yet.

India is among the Top 30 countries with the highest potential to get affected by this pandemic. We cannot afford to have a situation wherein our already overloaded hospitals are unable to provide treatment to and fight this disease.

What we need to exercise is rigorous caution, awareness from credible sources and entirely shutting away oneself from the proceedings and occasions of gatherings. Participating will lead to exposure of contamination as the virus travels from one source to another and who is to tell that an affectionate or compassionate gesture may act as a catalyst to the spread.

Michael Song

Chairman, Topline India

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