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Bengaluru, May 24 (PTI) Neglect of diseases like TB and
cholera during the lockdown may cancel out lives potentially
saved by the COVID-19-induced enforcement measure, says a
public health expert.
Professor, Indian Institute of Public Health, Hyderabad,
Public Health Foundation of India, V Ramana Dhara said one has
to consider the invisible loss of life from the increase in
poverty-related diseases like TB, malnutrition and cholera,
which can be neglected while the "lockdowns are ongoing".
The deaths resulting from these diseases may well cancel
out the lives potentially saved by the lockdowns. One should
view this epidemic as Mother Nature''s reaction to the rampant
ecological damage caused by humans resulting in animal habitat
loss and resultant contact between humans and animals , he
told PTI in an interview on Sunday.
On his assessment of the COVID-19 situation in India, he
noted that clearly the number of cases as on Saturday of
125,000 has exceeded the predicted 100,000 by May-end and is
continuing to rapidly rise .
While the case fatality rate is holding steady, overall
mortality is more important, but there may be an under-count
if some deaths may not be tested for COVID-19, (example:
people dying at home)", Ramana Dhara said.
Dhara is an occupational/environmental medicine
physician board-certified by the American Board of Preventive
Medicine in Occupational Medicine and the American Board of
Independent Medical Examiners.
India''s fraction of the elderly population is below 10
per cent, which may account for the lower mortality. However,
if a significant portion of deaths are not tested for COVID,
that may also result in lower mortality (where deaths
occurring at home are not tested) , he said.
According to him, most models predict a continuing rise
in cases with no peak in sight in the country.
"If there eventually is a dip, we have to be prepared for
a possible second wave similar to the 1918 Spanish flu. There
is currently no way to tell if this will occur," said Ramana
Dhara who, as a member of the International Medical Commission
on Bhopal disaster, has designed and published the long-term
health effects studies on the exposed community.
His work on exposure assessment in the gas victims is
being used as a teaching tool in environmental epidemiology.
"Since there is no vaccine or proven treatment yet, we
can only rely on the hygiene measures," he said when asked as
to what else needs to be done on an urgent basis in addition
to wearing masks, and maintaining physical distancing.
"It is imperative that these measures must be strictly
We are seeing a return to the old ways of indiscipline
with the partial lifting of the lockdowns. The virus will
definitely spread and we are already witnessing the rise in
the number of cases.
The hospitals need to be urgently prepared with oxygen
and ventilatory support and ICU beds," he added.
Ramana Dhara, the former Medical Director of the
Occupational Health Clinics, Centers for Disease Control &
Prevention, Atlanta, the US, said the lockdown must be lifted
from June one to permit economic productivity to rise.
"However, the hygiene measures must be strictly
implemented by policing. Otherwise the rapid rise in cases may
see a return of the lockdowns. One can consider lockdowns in
certain containment zones depending on specific public health
criteria as outlined in the Kerala model", he said.
On his assessment about eventual COVID-19 deaths in
India, Ramana Dhara said: There is no way to predict this, but
we must prepare our health systems to tackle severe cases. PTI
Disclaimer :- This story has not been edited by Outlook staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds. Source: PTI
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