By-Dr Manoj Kumar Sahu
Odisha has the great potential for disaster management; it sets its own bench mark in front of the world. This time also our state will be at the front line in managing this outbreak. Lesions from other countries, which have successfully contained the infection, acting fast was the most important decision South Korea made, early detection and isolation were the most important strategies to prevent transmission of infection. Early detection paid off for Singapore. The country was one of the quickest to identify cases. Lock down and social distancing has been used to halt the transmission of the corona virus in China.
If we analyze the Bhilwara model to curb the spread of new coronavirus in areas that have been identified as hotspots, aggressive containment measures taken by the district administration limited the spread of the virus. Effective implementation of the curfew, sealing the borders of containment zones and ensuring zero vehicular movement, identifying potential clusters and carry out intensive mapping of contacts, besides isolating high-risk people and collecting samples for tests quickly and massive screening exercise covering the entire population to detect influenza-like symptoms. Kerala, its involvement of community at a large is standing it in good stead as it leads the fight against the coronavirus.
Odisha should have its own model to contain the infection with its experience in managing different disasters very effectively. The state is in lockdown till this month end, but we all are not doing the way the Govt wants. If every one of us is not supporting the state initiatives, it is definite we are going to lose the war.
The most important is awareness; people must understand the importance of these strict measures to curb the infection. This is the question of life and death, saving own life, others life, saving the state and saving the humanity. Community leaders, religious gurus must be involved to make people understand the seriousness of this problem. Unwanted social elements should face legal action.
The state should come up with the Odisha Corona App, to provide information about Corona infection, strategies implemented, and also to involve people, get their views and suggestions.
The Govt machinery must involve the people of Odisha as community leaders, volunteers, different NGOs, people from private organizations to work for the state, they and their family should be safeguarded. During shut down the state Govt with the local volunteers should design a system to provide every house hold the essential things, also the health care support. If this is done, people will not venture out and spread the infection.
Every households to be screened of suspected Covid infection in a cyclical manner, people should come forward to help the team in providing correct information. Those with suspected infection, should be quarantined and test to be done immediately, if positive, to be shifted to isolation and aggressive contact tracing done. The contacts to be tested and the measures to be followed.
This way the asymptomatic people who are unknowingly caring the virus and spreading to other people will be picked up. For this we need to have system in the rural and urban areas involving Asha workers, volunteers and Medical workers. There should be adequate quarantine and isolation beds involving different institutions and hostels, adequate facility for quick testing in different parts of the state. This disease should not have any stigmata associated with it. During quarantine and isolation the other family and dependant members must be taken care with food and essential needs. The quarantined and isolated persons and their families go through a great deal of stress. Trained psychologists and psychiatric social workers provide telephonic counseling and support to persons in isolation and quarantine.
The state must have full proof preparation for managing patients. There must be multiple Covid hospitals in different parts of the state, adequate ICU beds, enough emergency medications and ventilators. The health care professions to be educated and trained to manage this kind of patient load. Private hospitals should partner with the Govt initiative to treat Covid patients. Transparency is a necessary condition for an effective response. Regular and accurate information should be made available on the number of persons under observation, numbers tested, positive and deaths. We need to build trust among the people.
The most valuable resources in a health emergency are the Hospital staff, health care workers, Police, Public health personals, people involved in supplying essentials, with the Govt, we should also safeguard them to keep us healthy and disease free. Media should be an important partner in this public health emergency, the media ensures that sensationalism is avoided and carries out health education and creating great awareness among the people.
Lot of firm produce, vegetables, milk wasted, as not be purchased from the farmers in the rural area, the Govt should create a system to get those products from the farmers and supply to the consumers in rural and urban areas. People should be encouraged to start farming, with following social distancing and other precautionary measures. People who are at home should involve themselves in many productive things, which will benefit them, also the state.
As our Honorable CM told, saving lives is more important than protecting the economy. We should understand that the Govt needs huge fund to continue this fight, people should contribute, so also is our responsibility to take care of the needy and at risk people. The central Govt must provide adequate support to odisha in this difficult time. Lockdowns have to end at some point, but we should understand the importance of social distancing and good hygiene to control this infection.
Definitely we will win the war, but it needs adequate preparation and tremendous effort from our side. The state Govt must have a model to combat the epidemic.
(Dr Sahu is a Gastroenterologist based at Bhubaneswar, being associated with the World health Organization on Eradication of Hepatitis, also on prevention of Corona infection)