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Ujjain: The spike in coronavirus cases in several states across the country comes amid the second phase of India’s vaccination drive that covers people aged above 60 years and those above 45 years with co-morbidities.

Amid rise in Covid-19 cases in parts of the country the PM Modi has asked the states to take quick and decisive steps to check the second peak.

The situation is alarming in Madhya Pradesh, as according to Dr Naresh Purohit, advisor National Communicable Disease Control Programme, as 35 per cent of the active cases in the country are from the state.

Dr Purohit told Free Press that MP is in the early stage of second Covid-19 wave and complacency in terms of following corona norms has been observed in people.

There is a limited active effort to track, test, isolate cases and quarantine contacts. Citing his recent  study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology and Public Health, Dr Purohit said that from the past two weeks, small towns in over 70 districts across the country have seen a steep rise of over 150 per cent in new cases, with Ratlam  recording a shocking 500 per cent, Indore 350 per cent, Bhopal 320 per cent, Gwalior 360 per cent, Khargone 250 per cent and Ujjain 214 per cent spike.

Dr Purohit who is also the WHO- Covid-19 Technical lead said that in Madhya Pradesh based on the Covid-19 positive cases data from the state health authorities, measures such as night curfews, weekend lockdowns  have very limited impact in suppressing the transmission,” added Dr Purohit. 

He urged the state health department to focus on strict containment strategies, strengthening surveillance and augmenting testing. Dr Purohit said that underscored the need for observing the protocol laid down by ICMR.

The absence of rigorous tracing, testing and containment is leading to sustained community transmission.

As per Dr Purohit’s study the case-contact ratio is more than 1:12 in Madhya Pradesh and the current case fatality was found to be very high among admitted cases in Government Medical Colleges of the state which needs to be investigated in detail, including sending samples for genome sequencing.

Dr Purohit suggested that containment strategy needs to be re-introduced, but, this time the containment zones must be better defined based on contact listing, digital mapping of cases and contacts and should be much larger to include the area of influence of cases and contacts. 

“The buffer zones need to be delineated. The perimeter control needs to be strictly enforced. For each containment zone, the rapid response teams should develop an operational plan,” asserted Dr Purohit.

Dr Purohit called for augmenting testing to bring the test positivity rate to less than 3 per cent and strengthening surveillance by active house to house search for active cases and contacts in containment zones. 

Dr Purohit added that for every positive case, at least 20 to 30 close contacts (including family contacts, social contacts, workplace contacts and other casual contacts) need to be promptly traced and tracked and the practice of isolating 80-85 percent of active cases kept in home isolation needs to be reviewed.

As per his study mutations in the coronavirus have ‘immense escape mechanism’. They can threaten the immunity achieved by a person through vaccinations or the disease and cause re-infection.

Dr Purohit pointed that vaccine hesitancy among frontline workers needs to be addressed as their services would be required if the upward swing in new cases continues. The state should also expedite vaccinating those with co-morbidities and elderly.

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Free Press Journal