GUWAHATI, Aug 3 - As a country like India cannot be kept under lockdown for a long period, responsible behaviour of the people holds the key to prevent the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. This is the view of the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR). The ICMR is also of the view that the situation in India cannot be compared with that of advanced European countries.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, Director of the ICMR, Dr Rajni Kant said that though the number of cases is increasing, there is no reason to panic. The people will just have to remember that they have to behave in a responsible manner. People will have to avoid crowded places, wear masks, maintain social distancing and maintain hand hygiene as far as possible, he added.
Dr Kant pointed out that though the number of COVID-19 positive cases is increasing, there were some positive developments as the curve is coming down in some of the states including Delhi. Regarding Assam, he said that at the initial stage, the number of cases was very low, but the situation changed after the lockdown was eased and people were allowed to return from other states of the country. However, at the same time, he said that the number of positive cases is also increasing because the number of tests is also increasing.
Dr Kant said that when the pandemic broke out, there were very limited testing facilities in the country. But the situation has now changed and more than six lakh tests are now being carried out every day. The detection of cases is a positive development as the affected people can be isolated and they cannot spread the disease to others, he pointed out. He also said that the fact that large numbers of COVID-19 affected people are asymptomatic, is a cause of concern. �An asymptomatic patient with low viral load normally does not spread the virus. But even an asymptomatic patient with high viral load can spread the disease if he or she is not wearing mask. Moreover, when a person meets an asymptomatic patient who looks hale and hearty, no one will take precautions,� he added.
Replying to a question regarding media reports that the peak is yet to come in India, Dr Kant said that it is impossible to make such predictions. He said that in case of some diseases like Malaria, one can predict the peak or what will happen in the days to come. But in case of a new disease like COVID-19, it is impossible to make predictions.
The curve will flatten as soon as people become aware of their responsibilities to protect themselves and there is no reason for alarm as the number of infected people is still not very high compared to the population of India. �There was no specific treatment for the virus when it was first reported and the situation is just the same. There was no vaccine for the disease and same is the situation today. That is why we are maintaining that people should follow the guidelines issued by the Government strictly,� he said.
When pointed out that the situation in countries like Italy and France improved and they have even allowed international tourists, Dr Kant said that the situation in those countries cannot be compared with that of India. India has a huge population and the population of some states is more than the population of some of the European countries. That is why, no one should make comparisons, he added.