Epidemiologist Dr Giridhara Babu says relaxing rules for ‘one section’ is a bad precedent
Why should PM have to keep reminding people to adopt Covid-appropriate behaviour, Dr Babu wonders
The second Covid-19 wave has well and truly arrived in Bengaluru, as can be seen from the fact that the tech city is already witnessing around 3,000 positive cases on an average daily. In fact, experts have predicted that the city may even see around 6,500 daily cases by April 20.
Dr Giridhara Babu, Professor and Head, Life Course Epidemiology, at Public Health Foundation of India and a member of the technical advisory committee advising the state government on Covid-19, said that action to fight the coronavirus is required now, not tomorrow.
‘System could crash’
On Sunday, Dr Babu tweeted, “At this rate, #Bengaluru will have ~6500 daily cases by 20th April. Even if 10% of them require hospitalisation, the health system will run out of capacity in a few days. We need action now, not tomorrow.” His tweet added, “Stay home people, wear masks if going out, and get a vaccine when eligible.”
If the projections are to be believed, we are heading towards one. https://t.co/QQExeU7EFE— Dr Giridhara R Babu (@epigiri) April 4, 2021
Dr Babu pointed out that seeking exclusions (from Covid protocol) based on ‘privileges of power’ will not help in controlling Covid’s second wave.
Later, talking to a local Kannada news channel, he expressed dismay over the changing government stand on Covid-related guidelines. “The government should stand firm on its decision — relaxing the 50% seating capacity (rule) in theatres till April 7 has invited competition from other businesses as everyone has started demanding similar exemptions,” he said.
He noted that the government and experts plan and bring out a lot of guidelines to control the spread of the virus, but while the rules look fine on paper strict implementation is not seen.
‘Follow rules, avoid lockdown’
“Last year everyone followed the guidelines because Prime Minister Narendra Modi came out openly with an appeal, but we cannot expect him to come out every time and speak. It is human behaviour which can control the pandemic. But we don’t want to follow the guidelines framed for our own safety. We should follow the rules and avoid a lockdown kind of situation. Those eligible should come forward to take the vaccination,” he said.
Dr Babu said, “To control the surge, whatever has to be planned differently to control it is very important. Despite the fresh Covid behaviour guidelines issued, we are not able to control people gathering in large groups. Especially gatherings in closed spaces have witnessed a large number of positive cases.”
Noting the absence of Covid-appropriate behaviour among citizens, he wondered how the infection numbers could be reduced if there were no behavioural changes.
‘Prediction based on math’
Dr Babu said his estimate that Bengaluru could witness 6,500 positive cases daily by April 20 was not meant to create fear among the public but was a mathematical moduling which showed the extent of the surge in the coming days. “This is not an exact prediction. The number of cases may be less or even more. Going by the current trajectory, daily cases may be around 6,500 in Bengaluru and around 10,000 cases statewide,” he added.
‘Nix large gatherings’
Explaining that the surge in positive cases could be controlled, he said, “We need to avoid crowds and large gatherings have to be completely stopped. The number of positive cases which we are witnessing is cases which have incubated for two weeks, and new cases will come after another two weeks. Hence, the government has issued fresh guidelines. If we don’t follow them, we may need to take more extreme measures.”
‘Poor will be worst-hit’
Dr Babu bemoaned the fact that if the situation goes out of control, the poor will be affected worst of all as not only are they high-risk groups but they will not be able to afford hospitalisation.