The cases in the nation reached at 1,73,763 and government have maintained that there is no community transmission
MUMBAI| India after two months of nationwide lockdown gradually opens up, but some of the countries prominent public health and community medicine experts, including two members of an ICMR research group on COVID-19, have criticised the government’s handling of the pandemic and the lack of epidemiologists in decision making.
A joint statement by the Indian Public Health Association, Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine and Indian Association of Epidemiologists read as “It is unrealistic to expect that COVID-19 pandemic can be eliminated at this stage given that community transmission is already well-established across large sections or sub-populations in the country.”
In India, on Saturday the cases reached at 1,73,763 and government have maintained that there is no community transmission. As many as 7,964 fresh cases were reported on Saturday a new daily high. However, the number of active cases has gone own for the first time, from 89,987 patients on Friday to 86,422 Saturday.
The statement says, “India’s nationwide “lockdown” from March 25, 2020, till May 30, 2020, has been one of the most stringent; and yet COVID cases have increased exponentially through this phase. This draconian lockdown is presumably in response to a modelling exercise from an influential institution which was a ‘worst-case simulation’. Subsequent events have proved that the predictions of this model were way off the mark. Had the Government of India consulted epidemiologists who had a better grasp of disease transmission dynamics compared to modellers, it would have perhaps been better served….”
Dr Shashi Kant, Professor and Head, Centre for Community Medicine AIIMS, New Delhi and Dr D C S Reddy, Former Professor and Head, Community Medicine, BHU were the among signatories of the statement. The two members of an ICMR Research group on epidemiology and surveillance for COVID-19 constituted on April 6. Dr Reddy chairs the group.
Following the reports, as per the Sunday Express when questioned, Dr Shashi Kant said, “I am aware of it, I have signed it and I am in agreement with it is all I can say.” Dr Reddy said, “Yes I am aware of the statement, it was circulated to all of us and wherever we had doubts, we have raised it.”
Dr Anil Kumar, Deputy Director-General of Health Services, Dr Puneet Misra, professor, community medicine, AIIMS and Dr Kapil Yadav, Additional Professor, Centre for Community Medicine, AIIMS. The statement adds that the handling of migrants has added to the challenges in containing the spread of the disease.
Among the recommendations, the statement makes the constitution of a panel of interdisciplinary public health and preventive health experts and social scientists at central, state and district levels to address both public health and humanitarian crises.
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