India's Way of Dealing with the Covid-19 Virus

 


India ranks second in the world with the highest number of Covid-19 cases. As of today (19/5), as many as 25,495,330 Indians have been infected with the Coronavirus. Per day, daily cases in India always break records, once reaching 400 thousand cases a day.

However, according to the Consul General of the Republic of Indonesia (Consul General of the Republic of Indonesia) in Mumbai / India, Agus Prihatin Saptono, Covid-19 cases in India are starting to slow down. As of May 18, 2021, positive cases of Covid-19 in India reached 263,533. While the recovery rate increased quite high up to 422 thousand per day.

"So far, what is reflected is that the number of people affected by Covid is high. But as of today, the number has been decreasing. This week, cases throughout India have started to decline. Those who recovered on May 11, 2021, reached 422,000," said Agus in a virtual discussion with BNPB Indonesia, Wednesday (19/5).

It is known that India's second wave began in March 2021, while the peak of the second wave occurred in April 2021. As of April 22, the increase in Covid-19 cases reached 412,231 patients. Agus claimed that in May, India was able to pass the second wave of Covid-19 transmission.

"As of May 18, the condition has decreased quite well," he said.

Agus then explained several policies carried out by the Indian government in dealing with the surge in Covid-19 cases. He said the Indian government was carrying out activity curve management and management tracing Covid patients to monitor the movement of the virus.

"This management activity plays a role in limiting community activities," he said.

In addition, the Indian government is also aggressively conducting testing. The number of PCR tests across the state stands at 200,000 tests per day. If 5 positive cases are found in a place, then the place is immediately sealed.

Unfortunately, India's central government has not dared to impose a national lockdown. So that only some areas are locked down. This, said Agus, made some areas in northern India still unable to handle the high transmission of cases.

“They are not as ready as Mumbai. So the government is calling for the Mumbai model to be implemented in all states," he said.

It is known that the City of Mumbai or Maharasthra is the city with the highest number of Covid-19 cases in India in 2020. However, the recovery rate is also very high. This is why the Indian government enforces the Mumbai model.

The government also added three other health facilities such as ICU, pediatrics, and isolation areas. In addition, the government is also cooperating with industry players to regulate oxygen storage, so that the current oxygen demand in India is fulfilled.

It is known that from March to April, the oxygen demand in India is very limited. Many positive Covid-19 patients were found who did not receive treatment because the oxygen supply at the hospital was running low.WHO: How to handle the pandemic in India can determine the next Covid-19 trajectory

The Indian government has started to impose a lockdown. According to WHO, aggressive steps in dealing with the coronavirus are very important in this densely populated country.

Indians follow lockdown announcement on television

India can also determine the future trajectory of Covid-19, which was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), especially in the way India has handled this unprecedented crisis.

Dr. Michael J Ryan, executive director of the WHO's health emergencies program, said: “India, like China, is a very densely populated country. The future of this pandemic will, in large part, be determined by what happens in very large and densely populated countries. ”

"So, it is very important for India to continue to take aggressive action at the public health level to control, suppress this disease and save lives," Ryan added.

India lockdown

Earlier, the Prime Minister of India announced a 21-day lockdown. "Starting from midnight today, the entire country will be under complete lockdown," Narendra Modi said in a televised address Tuesday night (24/3) local time.

"For the next few days, forget about going out. Stay at home. Just do this one thing, stay at home," said Narendra Modi. But apparently, it is not easy to implement.

Quarantine efforts

When Krittika Walia landed at New Delhi airport from Paris earlier this month, she had mentally prepared herself to be quarantined according to regulations imposed by the Indian government, which is grappling with rising COVID-19 cases. However, Walia did not expect what would happen.

Walia, a 27-year-old woman who is studying architecture in Paris, said she and other passengers had to wait hours in an empty section of New Delhi airport without being given food or water. Then, he and a group of other passengers had to take a bus to an empty apartment block in an area far from everywhere.

The passengers who had just arrived from outside India had to be quarantined and asked to share an apartment. But the condition of the apartment building was very deplorable. The building is run down, the elevator doesn't work and the bathroom stinks. Everything is covered in dust.

"I was shocked and angry. I didn't need fancy facilities, just a clean room, and bathroom," Walia told DW. "Forget about the coronavirus; I'm afraid I'll get diarrhea or another infection if I stay there."

Walia said there was indeed a cleaning team that was brought in after people complained. The team came wearing protective suits for work and masks. After cleaning, they posed for official photos.

"It seems more like an attempt by the government to show that they are doing something about the coronavirus," he added. After checking their body temperature, Walia and the other passengers were asked to leave the next day to self-isolate at home.

Residents refuse to be quarantined

The World Health Organization said that although there is no universal standard regarding infrastructure in quarantine facilities, at least quarantine wards should not increase the risk of transmission. However, on social media, images, and reports circulated of quarantine facilities in India being unsanitary and many people being forced to share rooms and dormitories. This triggers concerns, these conditions accelerate the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Slum conditions make people also increasingly avoid quarantine. There are fears that this rejection will endanger many lives and cause unnecessary panic. Ten people had previously reportedly fled a hospital in Mumbai while they were supposed to be waiting for test results after returning from Dubai and showing symptoms of COVID-19.

Indian media also write about people not reporting their overseas travel to high-risk countries to avoid public quarantine. There have also been reports of patients escaping quarantine facilities, sparking a manhunt by panicked health and law enforcement officials seeking to track down anyone who may have come into contact with the escaped patients.

Several state and city governments have imposed lockdowns, including in the city of Calcutta

Fear and hysteria

With the increasing number of cases of coronavirus infection in India, people refusing to be screened and quarantined are becoming a major obstacle to infection control. Public health experts say the government needs to provide clean quarantine facilities and correct information regarding the coronavirus. This is important for building trust and certainty.

"The challenge is that apart from the issue of hygiene, there is a general fear and mistrust among people placed in government quarantine and isolation centers," Giridhar Babu, an epidemiologist at the New Delhi-based Foundation for Public Health, told DW.

"They (the public) don't know what will happen. They worry about what will happen to their family members. There is a lot of phobia and hysteria about anyone who can spread the virus. People who go into quarantine also face social stigma as ' spreader of the virus,'” he said.

"This has to stop. The authorities need to communicate better and explain to people that: 'If you leave the facility, you will do more harm than good to your family and loved ones.' People need to understand why quarantine is so important in fighting this virus," he added.

So far, most of the COVID-19 cases in India, which currently reaches more than 400 cases, have been reported from foreign tourists or Indian citizens returning from abroad. However, health experts are concerned about transmission among local residents. India was one of the first countries to close its borders by canceling visas and denying entry to foreigners except for a few people. Authorities across the country have also carried out an aggressive screening program at airports.

Tracking people's movements

Given a large number of cases of people escaping and refusing quarantine, states in India have encouraged citizens to self-quarantine at home. Authorities are also looking for ways to track people's movements. In the southern state of Kerala, authorities are using CCTV footage, mobile phone records, and even GPS technology to track the movements of a family who returned from Italy in late February.

The government alleges that the family deliberately concealed their travel history and did not report themselves for a mandatory check-up at a local hospital. Meanwhile, in the western state of Maharashtra, which has recorded the highest number of coronavirus cases with more than 70 cases, the words "quarantine at home" are written in permanent ink on the hands of people arriving from abroad who show symptoms of being infected with the virus. The stamp includes the expiration date of the quarantine period.

"If these people (who get stamped) go out, others can identify them as quarantine patients at home. This is done so that patients are strictly compliant to self-quarantine at home," said Rajesh Tope, Minister of Public Health in Maharashtra state, at a press conference.

Several countries have also introduced colonial-era laws to punish people, including provisions for prison terms, for violating quarantine obligations, isolating at home, or for lying to authorities about their travel history.

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