The World Health Organisation (WHO) had declared COVID-19 as a public health emergency of global concern on January 30, 2020. Scientists have identified about 7 types of coronaviruses including the novel coronavirus. Mankind has suffered the worst on account of the COVID-19 health disorder. The Government of India has implemented certain stringent measures including the lockdown to manage the health crisis. Efforts are also made to expand the healthcare facilities across the country to save mankind from the menace of COVID-19. The recovery rate has crossed above 70% in India thanks to Mother Nature and government intervention. The need for timely and adequate governmental intervention for public health management assumes great significance in the present times.
It has also brought about severe economic crisis across the globe. People have undergone the problem of joblessness, especially in the unorganised sector. The government has to address the issue of preventing deaths from COVID-19 since India accounts for the highest number of increase in cases internationally. Lockdowns have not contained the spread of disease and the occurrence of death in the country. India’s per day testing capacity has crossed 10 lakh tests and there is sustained growth in the average weekly number of tests due to expansion of diagnostic lab network and facilitation for easy testing by the government.
There are certain deficiencies in mortality surveillance in respect of COVID-19 due to certain in-built constraints and limitations in the country. Activists have also prevailed upon the government to put COVID-19 deaths related data in the public domain. COVID-19 has adversely impacted the death registration due to lockdowns, travel restrictions, social stigma and other factors. There are serious limitations of test availability due to restrictive criteria for access and use, even for people with symptoms. Healthcare providers also face certain difficulties in mortality surveillance.
The national COVID-19 taskforce has observed that lockdown as a strategy for control of infection should be discontinued and geographically limited restrictions for short periods should be imposed in epidemiologically defined clusters. In large cities, there is a high number of cases due to inadequate testing facilities and state-of- the-art health care infrastructural facilities. In small cities and rural areas, the infections are moderate or extremely limited due to certain situations including herd immunity. Poor weather conditions are responsible for an increase in seasonal viral illnesses. Monsoon is the most fertile breeding season for harmful viruses, bacteria and other micro-organisms as a matter of fact. It is practically difficult to distinguish whether it is a common cold, flu, Influenza ‘A’ H1N1 or COVID-19 based on the symptoms alone.
People are getting confused due to the similarity of the common cold and COVID-19 symptoms in the present times. COVID-19 is predominantly a respiratory thrombogenic disease which precipitates clot formation which can occur in the arteries of the heart and brain. Self-medication and non-availability of timely testing facilities practically lead to severe health complications. Even doctors may have very little time to manage the patients in case of late reporting of infection. “Pain in the abdomen and diarrhoea may seem to be gastrointestinal issues. But these are also emerging as COVID-19 symptoms” observes: Dr C N Manjunath, Nodal Officer for labs and testing in the COVID-19 Task Force of Karnataka.
It is a matter of satisfaction that about 60% of 125 COVID-19 patients who underwent convalescent plasma transfusion in the State have recovered. It is also found that plasma therapy when administered at the right time could help patients in their fight against the novel coronavirus. There is a need for establishing a plasma bank in each district, obtaining the particulars of beneficiaries of plasma therapy and providing plasma therapy in order to improve the healthcare system. It is also necessary to motivate the people who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate their plasma in order to save the precious lives on humanitarian grounds. The policymakers are responsible for the expansion and development of health infrastructural facilities across the country. Adequate health personnel should be recruited and equipped to firmly deal with health hazards including COVID-19. The ‘corona warriors’ need proper professional, financial and social security in order to combat the disease with confidence and competence.
(The writer is Associate Professor and Head, Government Women’s Science College, Vijayanagar 4th Stage, Mysuru)