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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 97-98

Coronavirus-19 pandemic: Time to defuse misbelief and build trust

1 Department of Community Medicine, JSS Medical College, JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research, Mysuru, Karnataka, India
2 GRID Council, NCR, New Delhi, India

Date of Submission17-Mar-2020
Date of Decision17-Mar-2020
Date of Acceptance17-Mar-2020
Date of Web Publication9-Apr-2020

Correspondence Address:
Praveen Kulkarni
Department of Community Medicine, JSS Medical College, JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research, Mysuru, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijhas.IJHAS_39_20

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How to cite this article:
Kulkarni P, Mohapatra A, Narayana Murthy M R. Coronavirus-19 pandemic: Time to defuse misbelief and build trust. Int J Health Allied Sci 2020;9:97-8

How to cite this URL:
Kulkarni P, Mohapatra A, Narayana Murthy M R. Coronavirus-19 pandemic: Time to defuse misbelief and build trust. Int J Health Allied Sci [serial online] 2020 [cited 2024 Mar 5];9:97-8. Available from: https://www.ijhas.in/text.asp?2020/9/2/97/282135

“Raising awareness versus raising alarm; the public can't be better informed if the information isn't better.”

― T.K. Naliaka

The novel coronavirus-19 (COVID-19) “pandemic” (WHO, March 11, 2020) calls for concerted national and international effort for containment.[1] Since its emergence in Wuhan (China), the virus has rapidly spread to at least 143 countries across the globe despite concerned efforts. As on March 11, 2020, 153,517 confirmed cases and 5735 deaths have been reported globally.[2] After China lived through its worse, Europe has become the new epicenter of the pandemic.[3] Beyond health, the impact on other sectors and overall development is perceived to be huge. Worldwide stock indices have reacted to the sentiment and have taken nose-dives. With travel restrictions and work-from-home recommendations, international businesses are likely to have slowed down. It is estimated that the COVID-19 pandemic could cost $2 trillion globally, push several households below the poverty line, and may derail the Sustainable Development Goals agenda. On the other hand, evidence is accruing day by day on the COVID-19 epidemiology, risk predictions, and potential combat strategies. There is hope that we may be able to find a drug that works against the virus or manage to develop a vaccine but that is unlikely before 2021.

Available evidence suggests that COVID-19 is transmitted through droplets; 81% of cases are mild and self-limiting. The case fatality rate (proportion of cases who die due to the infection) ranges at around 3%–5% and increases exponentially in the elderly (possibly due to comorbidities and a weaker immune system). Children are mostly protected against adverse outcome though even newborns have been tested positive, with the virus raising questions whether the infection was transmitted intrauterine or peripartum. The secondary attack rate, which is the measure of transmissibility of disease in one incubation period, is around 3%–10%. Basic reproduction number (R0), which is a measure of average number of new infections generated from a single-infected, person is around 2.4. These numbers are expected to change as the pandemic progresses through different stages and according to the country's level of preparedness.[4] There have been reports of those declared as “cured” being “reinfected” – something that needs to be investigated amidst the chances of being wrongly declared as “cured” or as false positives (due to test or human error).

India reported its first laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19 on January 30, 2020 – a student from Kerala who had returned from Wuhan provinces of China. Since then, the total count has risen to 84 with two deaths as on March 14, 2020 – a female in Delhi and a male in Karnataka, both elderly and with comorbid conditions, likely leading to complications.[5],[6] Of the 84 cases, 67 are Indian nationals and 17 are foreigners; 10 have been declared cured, whereas the remaining are under isolation and observation. Local transmission of COVID-19 (infection among those with no travel history to affected countries) has been reported in the following five states: Delhi, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh. In a resource-constrained country of 1.3 billion people with grossly inadequate health logistics and skilled personnel and an unsure capacity for rapid scaling up of diagnostic and health services, delaying the spread of infection within the country seems to be a “war that must be won.”

By dwarfing the epidemiological curve, we are likely to be better prepared, and from historical experience with pandemics, likely incur lesser human loss to the pandemic. The Government of India (GOI) is fast responsive to the situation. The outbreak combat has been through a series of aggressive measures by the central and state governments. The GOI has declared COVID-19 outbreak in the country as a “notified disaster.” Health being a state subject, several states have invoked the provisions under Section 2 of the Epidemic Disease Act 1897, which gives “power to take special measures and prescribe regulations as to dangerous epidemic disease.” Screening of all the international passengers at airports, suspending all the visas (with few exceptions), strict quarantine of suspected cases, designing and disseminating standard operating guidelines for the management of cases, and knowledge resources for general public awareness materials are a few to name.[5] Social distancing; cough etiquette; hand hygiene; not touching the eyes, nose, and mouth with unclean hands; avoiding crowded places; withholding foreign travels; judicious use of face masks; self-quarantine in case of exposure; seeking immediate health care in need; spreading awareness prevention and control measures; and preventing social gatherings are the measures to be undertaken for effective containment of this pandemic, and these are being actively circulated through various channels to the public and even implemented with administrative strong-handedness (Section 144 of IPC has been applied in several places across India which disallows congregation of people; failure to register on part of any one returning from abroad has been made punishable by the Government of Odisha).[7] Face masks and sanitizers have been included in the list of most essential drugs, and their export has been blocked.

There are certain indigenous insights emerging from the COVID-19 situation in India. The felt need is shifting from tertiary care and health insurance toward disease prevention. Political commitment has gradually matured to political accountability and apolitical pragmatism. For instance, the government had announced cash compensation to the next of kin of COVID-19 victims (demonstrating empathy and commitment to ensure health security to all), but was quick to reverse the same (thus showing that the government's responsiveness is rooted in reality and with purpose). The present pandemic of COVID-19 has also seen an unprecedented media attention – both the organized sector and in the social media. Notwithstanding the rumors, mispropaganda and fear this might have led to, this has seemingly led to rapid on-boarding of the public en masse in terms of some awareness on the topic, thanks to the penetration of technology. Our demographic structure (being predominantly a young country) and climate conditions (a hot summer) may be of help – an optimistic speculation that only the times to come will clarify.

Outbreaks pose challenges, and they also open plenty of opportunities to understand the finer details of epidemiology and dynamics of disease transmission. The present pandemic is not an exception for this. Across the world, we are learning new lessons, adapting new strategies, sharing our experiences, exchanging ideas, and helping each other for being disease free in this situation of crisis. This validates the philosophy of ”Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,” which means that the whole world is just one family – in health and in disease!

  References Top

World Health Organization. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Report. No 51. Available from: URL https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200311-sitrep-51-covid-19.pdf?sfvrsn=1ba62e57_4 downloaded on 14.03.2020, 20.00 IST. [Last accessed on 2020 Mar 11].  Back to cited text no. 1
World Health Organization. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Report. No 55. Available from: URL https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200315-sitrep-55-covid-19.pdf? sfvrsn=33daa5cb_6 downloaded on 16.03.2020, 18.00 IST. [Last accessed on 2020 Mar 11].  Back to cited text no. 2
World Health Organization. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Report. No 54. Available from: URL https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200314-sitrep-54-covid-19.pdf? sfvrsn=dcd46351_6 downloaded on 16.03.2020, 18.00 IST. [Lase accessed on 2020 Mar 14].  Back to cited text no. 3
Max Roser, Hannah Ritchie and Esteban Ortiz-Ospina (2020)-”Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) - Statistics and Research”. Published online at OurWorldInData.org. Available from: “https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus”. [Last accessed on 2020 Mar 16].  Back to cited text no. 4
World Health Organization India. Novel Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Update Report. No 7. Available from: URL https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/wrindia/situation-report/india-situation-report-7.pdf? sfvrsn=cf4a7312_2downloaded on 16.03.2020, 17.00 IST. [Last accessed on 2020 Mar 14].  Back to cited text no. 5
World Health Organization India. Novel Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Update Report. No 1. URL World Health Organization India. Available from: URL https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/wrindia/india-situation-report-1.pdf? sfvrsn=5ca2a672_0 downloaded on 15.03.2020, 13.00 IST. [Last accessed on 2020 Jan 31].  Back to cited text no. 6
World Health Organization. Q and A on Coronaviruses (COVID-19). Available from: URL https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses downloaded on 15th April 2020, 16.00 IST. [Last accessed on 2020 Mar 17].  Back to cited text no. 7

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