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Country should act fast on coronavirus

Country should act fast on coronavirus
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India, which remained almost untouched by coronavirus so far, is now witnessing the dread setting in. 'There is one patient in Delhi, one in...

India, which remained almost untouched by coronavirus so far, is now witnessing the dread setting in. "There is one patient in Delhi, one in Telangana and six in Agra who have tested positive for COVID-19. Apart from these, 16 Italian nationals have tested positive for the disease. the driver of the group of Italian nationals, who were touring in Jaipur, has also tested positive," confirmed Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) also confirmed that 17 Indians have been infected with coronavirus abroad. Out of the 22 new cases, 16 have been reported in Jaipur - 15 Italians and one Indian. The group from Italy was on a holiday, while the Indian was the group's bus driver, said Vardhan. All of them have got the disease from the patient who was confirmed to have contracted the virus earlier. Despite the Union government and respective State governments trying to downplay the issue apparently with the intention to see that no panic is spread, the fact remains that the figure of total of 28 suspected cases is no longer a trivial tally and the fear among people is not without any good reason. Most of the States did not take up the advance measures like having adequate and proper isolation wards with international standards even in major cities.

All the State governments seem to have gone in for a knee jerk reaction by hurriedly earmarking some beds and naming them as isolation wards. With the number of suspected cases growing, they have now sought the help of corporate hospitals and asked them to create isolation wards so that a greater number of beds can be made available. At least those who can afford to spend a fortune can go to the corporate hospitals thereby reducing the pressure on government hospitals, the governments seem to have felt. Coronavirus certainly needs to be viewed seriously. There are interesting arguments that India could effectively tackle Swine Flu and hence handling coronavirus is not very difficult. One could have ignored this kind of comment if it was on social media but such a comment from Health Minister of Telangana E Rajender is rather surprising. It appears that the officials did not inform him about the observations of the World Health Organisation which on Tuesday announced that the global death rate of the disease caused by the new coronavirus was 3.4 percent.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the organisation's Director General, said in a news conference in Geneva that Covid-19 was deadlier than the seasonal flu. The silver lining is that it does not transmit as easily. Till recently, analysts have been advocating the theory that India was relatively a safe country. But the way suspected cases have been coming to light across the country gives a feeling that the theory of India being relatively safe is losing steam. While it is a fact that India does not have strong links with China in terms of visitor arrivals, the virus had made its way into India via Dubai, Italy and other countries to which the virus has spread via China. This obviously means that the protocol of screening passengers coming from various countries including the US, Hongkong, South Korea etc was not followed in letter and spirit by the concerned authorities. The saying 'prevention is better than cure' seems to have remained only on paper. Let's pray and hope that the country takes up the issue on top priority and wakes up to the urgency of taking necessary precautionary as well as curative measures.

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