- New strategy is required to battle the Covid surge, says AIIMS Chief
- Dr Randeep Guleria says the country now has community transmission
- Healthcare system will be overwhelmed unless surge is contained, he adds
A new strategy is required to battle the Covid surge in the country that is fueled by laxity in maintaining safety measures and a mutant strain of the Covid, Dr Randeep Guleria - the chief of Delhi's All-India Institute of Medical Sciences and a top member of the government's Covid Task Force - said on Saturday.
Over the last 24 hours, the country saw the biggest daily surge in Covid cases since mid-September, with 93,249 fresh infections, taking the tally to over 1.24 crore.
This is the highest since September 19, when 93,337 cases were recorded.
What the country now has is community transmission and unless that can be contained, the health care system will be overwhelmed, the AIIMS chief said.
"We have to aggressively work on reducing the number of cases," through a bigger range of measures, including "containment zones, lockdown areas, ramping up testing, tracing and isolation," Dr Guleria said. He also suggested "micro lockdowns" were necessary to contain the spread.
"We can do things that do not hit the economy in a big manner and one of them is non-essential travel. People can obviously postpone their holidays and vacations for some time and that will help decrease the spread of infection to areas where there are not that many cases," he said.
This is a big change, "because we are not talking of only air travel but travel by road and train and all of that becomes hard when you look at it in a holistic manner," he added.
Several states have issued restrictions on travel to and from Maharashtra, which is the worst affected by the virus. But besides Maharashtra, seven other states are driving the spike in numbers. The list includes Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh.
There is also a need to contain the virus in areas where it is spiking, Dr Guleria said. For this, it is essential to ramp up genome sequencing and connecting it with epidemiological data from the ground.
The government is maintaining that the emerging second wave of the virus is due to laxity in observing safety measures like the use of mask and social distancing.
"The fact that data is not there does not mean it is not happening," Dr Guleria has said in an earlier interview. "It is likely logically that if there is a sudden surge in cases, there is something which is happening which is making the virus more infectious," he had added.