India Prescription for Covid19 by Abhijit and Duflow

First even if the lockdown works and the “curve gets flattened”, and the overall spread of the disease remains contained, the disease will continue to widen its ambit, as unknowing carriers reach new populations. Given that the disease tends to be dormant for two weeks or so, and only those directly connected to a case (i.e. not the neighbour on a bus ride) are tested, these invisible agents are not easily identified and as a result, the number of such apparently innocent contacts can be large; the son who comes home from Delhi could infect the entire extended family before it gets discovered.

Second, there are places where stemming the spread of the disease will be very hard, once someone has it. Proper social distancing and complete lockdowns are just very hard to achieve, for example, in many urban slums.

Third, the fact that the lockdown started before the disease reached very many people, means that almost no one has immunity. This means that as long as the disease is not fully eliminated in the next three weeks (very unlikely), the disease will start to spread at an accelerating rate as soon as the curfew is lifted. That does not mean that the curfew was useless — for one, it probably bought us some time to put a plan in place and limit the number of infections in the next few weeks — but the problem will be there with us in 21 days.

We, therefore, need to be prepared for the disease to explode in pockets all over the country, including some of the more remote rural areas, over the next many months. Moreover, some of these hotspots will be exactly where our system of healthcare is the weakest. On average, we have about 1/8 as many hospital beds per capita as China, which is frightening in itself, but even those are concentrated in the more prosperous areas.
“Doctors” with no medical qualification are the dominant source of day-to-day healthcare in much of India, but at least with the more familiar ailments they sometimes know the standard protocols. Patients with COVID-19 will come to them for diagnosis and treatment, neither of which they are equipped to deal with. They will go to the hospitals, if at all, too late, having spread the disease along the way.

What can we do to limit the extent of preventable tragedy?
First, try to make sure that every household has at least one person who knows the key symptoms of the disease. Second, spread the awareness that some people will get infected despite their best efforts; we want to avoid ostracism and concealment. Honest reporting is key. Third, offer multiple ways to report; a hotline, the ANM, the Asha, etc.

Fourth, consider training the rural health practitioners (including the unqualified) in the detection of those symptoms and reporting them to the relevant authorities.

Fifth, make sure that those reports are collated quickly so that we know where the new hotspots might be and more generally, focus on coordination of the evidence from across the country so that broad trends can be identified.

Sixth, in each state create a large mobile team of health professionals, doctors and nurses, with testing kits and, ideally, ventilators and other equipment. The idea is a part of this team will be quickly deployed wherever the number of reports seems to be growing fast (including in nearby areas in other states). If the current lockdown is successful, the most plausible scenario is that there will still be many mini upsurges at different points of time (as against a single catastrophic burst, which would be much worse) and this allows the possibility of using the same team in multiple locations.

Seventh, to build this team and make sure it has access to the necessary equipment, require all health professionals (and not just those who work for the government) to be available for call up where needed and give the teams the right to make use of all hospitals, private and public, as needed.

Eighth, be much, much bolder with the social transfers schemes. Without that, the demand crisis will snowball into an economic avalanche, and people will have no choice but to defy orders. What the government is offering is now is small potatoes — at most couple of thousands for a population that is used to spending that much every few days. If the point is to stop them from going out to find work and thereby spreading the disease, the amounts probably need to be much larger.

Moreover, eligibility for the schemes is confusing (who is a farmer?) and tied to eligibility for the “business as usual” schemes known to have many gaping holes. It is better to go for universal coverage and find ways to discourage those who really don’t need it (publish lists of beneficiaries so everyone knows who they were?) And now is clearly the time to deploy the JAM (Jan Dhan, Aadhaar, Mobile) infrastructure that the government takes pride in: the transfers should be sent directly to bank accounts, with an accompanying electronic message to the recipients.

Finally, be prepared to continue this “war effort” until the vaccine comes on line. Then vaccinate as many people as possible. And start to upgrade the healthcare system — let us be better prepared for the next time more  

View all 21 comments Below 21 comments
Ajay has given a full description and what he says can come true. If Ashok says that paracetamol can cure the mild symptoms please let the government in on this and let them administer the drug and let us see the results. 4 tablets three times a day is a lot. more  
This writer of post does not know that there is no vaccine for any virus. Without proper knowledge people are giving suggestions. That is more dangerous. We really do not have any endemic or epidemic of this virus. All that is being spread must be immediately stopped otherwise more people will die due to hunger and unemployment. Actually we have endemic of TB, malaria, flu, Leprosy but our government is not bothered about those diseases. Covid is not any thing but only side effect of infection. Actually what kills is pneumonia. I have seen people called so called positive clearing by taking 4 tablets of Crocin, Metacin or any paracetamol three times a day for three days. The person becomes negative of corona virus. Government must not spread wrong information on media.
Continuous calling on phones and such mischievous activities are not going to help anybody. First government should give proof that there is really any endemic or even epidemic of this virus in India. Our economy is destroyed by this non existing threat. Government must behave more prudently. They are using police with canes in there hands to frighten people as if we are all criminals. Dr. Anil Patil of KEM hospital has challenged that this propaganda of corona is a big mischief to cover up for our government's failure on economic front. Whatever the situation in other countries, at least in our country there is no endemic or epidemic due to corona virus. Stop frightening people with a lot of misinformation. more  
Very painstakingly compiled sir .very useful tips .Hope that these are considered partly for implimentation. more  
Thoughtful and well written note which was demanded at this juncture. However, I would like to consider following points also:
1) maintaining personal hygiene, 'social distancing' to the extent possible ( don't handshake or embrace but say 'namaste' with folded hands.
2) to be vigilant on 'social hygiene' - whether individuals with 'advice for quarantine' are moving outside/unrestricted. more  
The country has to be war footing to deal with Corona Virus on a long run basis, till anti-biotics are designed to treat the disease. Let us have hope and aim to achieve our best more  
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