Mumbai: It’s now official. The Maharashtra government anticipates a second coronavirus pandemic wave in January and February 2021. In order to effectively combat the virus, State Public Health Director Dr Archana Patil, in a six-page advisory, has released key measures to be implemented by the district administration and municipal corporations.
The containment guidelines include stepping up testing as per the ICMR guidelines, regular surveys of influenza-like illnesses and potential superspreaders, strengthening treatment amenities, including beds, Covid hospitals, care centres and health centres, uninterrupted supply of medicines and oxygen and comorbidity clinics. The government has also emphasised the need for proper management of ambulances to ensure that Covid-19 patients will not face problems.
‘’WHO, in its guidelines, has insisted that 140 tests per million should be conducted per day. The district administration and municipal corporations are expected to strictly implement it by making adequate testing facilities operational in their respective jurisdictions. The contact tracing and house-to-house survey should be done on a war footing so that those Covid-19 positive, as well as their contacts can be treated at the earliest,’’ said Dr Patil in the advisory.
Dr Patil has warned that potential superspreaders could play a crucial role. These include grocers, vegetable and footpath vendors, home delivery personnel, transport operators, drivers, conductors, security guards and employees engaged in essential services. The government wants the district administration and municipal corporations to survey and test these potential superspreaders.
The state's Covid-19 taskforce member Dr Shashank Joshi said that with lower temperatures, smog and pollution there was a possibility of a second wave from December-end to January-end. ‘’Aggressive Covid appropriate behaviour is the only way to mitigate it, apart from aggressive testing, tracing and isolation,’’ he opined.
Even though the number of active patients are below 90,000, the government expects the district administration and municipal corporations to pay adequate attention to the management of home isolation cases, contact tracing and the survey of patients with flu symptoms.
They will also have to run an awareness campaign for Covid-appropriate behaviour. The government has insisted that the Diwali celebration should be without fireworks.
Apart from this, during public awareness drives, the district administration and municipal corporations should insist on compulsory use of masks in public places, frequent handwashing, public distancing, avoiding of smoking and spitting and importantly, to avoid treating Covid-19 patients as outcasts and consulting experts to avoid anxiety about the pandemic.