By April, India could become Italy, Iran: Top Microbiologist

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Mumbai: At the current speed at which COVID-19 is spreading in the country, India is at the threshold of a major medical calamity within a month, and the country must implement a ‘Janata Curfew’ for at least two weeks, warns a leading microbiologist.

“We feel if asocial distancing’ is not implemented seriously, by end-April hospitals may be full of patients and the situation could be totally unmanageable,” a concerned A.M. Deshmukh, President of Microbiologists Society, India (MSI), told reporters.

Expressing worries over the manner in which people are blatantly flouting norms of asocial distancing’ and continue to crowd in open, Deshmukh said this poses a huge risk of spreading the virus by ‘contact’.

The MSI has shot off a memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding that in view of this, the ‘Janata Curfew’ of March 22 must be extended and continued for at least another 14 days to effectively check the spread of the coronavirus.

The MSI statement came even as Modi and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar and Congress state President Balasaheb Thorat expressed distress over the hordes which trooped out after yesterday’s ‘Janata Curfew’ in Mumbai on Monday (March 23).

The crowds thronged despite statewide near-total lockdown implemented since midnight of March 22-23 till March 31 by Thackeray, along with prohibitory orders right up to Nagar Panchayat jurisdictions.

Deshmukh explains that the COVID-19 has an incubation period of 14 days after which the patient tests either negative or positive, but if infected (positive) he/she will be hospitalized, like in China, Italy, Iran, Germany, Spain, Portugal, US, UK, etc.

“We are confident that by implementing ‘Janata Curfew’ for another 14 days will control the outbreak and we will succeed to bring the outbreak in reverse direction,” said the MSI plea to the PM.

Referring to global statistics that COVID-19 commands upto 2 per cent death rate, Deshmukh pointed out that if the WHO-declared pandemic is not controlled immediately, then in the next quarter, everyone in this country could be a potential infectee.

Deshmukh said any major spread could be catastrophic for India’s 125-crore population, though the silver lining is the ensuing heat of summer may have an adverse impact on the coronavirus.

“Moreover, India has severe limitations in the health-care sector, like shortages of beds, ventilators, medical and para-medical staff, etc, so even a miniscule percentage of the affected population poses a monumental challenge,” Deshmukh said.

He admits that such a long period of ‘Janata Curfew’ would play havoc with the poor, daily wage-earners, senior or single citizens, the sick or handicapped, especially in the big cities.

“They are the responsibility of the government and society… The government and society must take proper care of such persons by ensuring they get proper meals and other life essentials. It is for the larger good of the government and people, so they can do this much for this helpless class,” Deshmukh urged.

With around 350 members, the Maharashtra-based MSI was founded in 1996 as an apex body of microbiologists and works in different spheres including environment, agriculture and academic.

(Agencies)