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Friday, Jul 24, 2020 13:00 [IST]

Last Update: Friday, Jul 24, 2020 07:19 [IST]

In our hands now

Even as Kerala confirmed there was community transmission in the state, the government of India has remained silent on it. The government, till date, maintains there is “no community transmission”, despite more than a million confirmed Covid-19 cases, the third highest in the world, behind only the United States and Brazil. This denial of what the experts are calling “the writing on the wall” is hurting the administration’s ability to build trust, communicate effectively and mobilise communities during the crisis, and hurting India’s handling of the pandemic.
Community transmission occurs when a positive patient has not been exposed to another known Covid-19 patient. This indicates that the infection is well-established in the community.
Quarantine and lockdown, which India is still focusing on, as a primary strategy is counterproductive, said experts. Instead, the focus should now be on community-driven behavioural changes, use of masks in public and a stronger message for hand-washing, hygiene and physical distancing.
A new study has found that “self-imposed prevention” measures such as hand-washing and wearing masks, coupled with social distancing norms by the government, can help mitigate and delay a second surge of Covid-19.
Published in the PLOS Medicine — a peer-reviewed open access journal on 21 July, the study aims to understand “the individual and combined effectiveness of self-imposed prevention measures and short-term government-imposed social distancing in mitigating, delaying, or preventing a Covid-19 epidemic”. It has been authored by Alexandra Teslya, Thi Mui Pham, Noortje G. Godijk, Mirjam E. Kretzschmar, Martin C. J. Bootsma and Ganna Rozhnova from the Utrecht University in The Netherlands.
The study says that self-imposed measures such as hand-washing, mask-wearing and social distancing, can “delay the epidemic peak”, flatten its curve and reduce attack rates. Focussing on the rate at which disease awareness spreads and its impact on people, the study notes that a large epidemic can be prevented when efficacy of self-imposed prevention exceeds by 50 per cent. It cites another study by US researchers on how ethnic minorities, with socioeconomic disadvantages, were more likely to get infected by the virus, to highlight the importance of self-imposed prevention measures.
The study notes that dissemination of information is highly crucial for the elderly, disadvantaged individuals, or those with lower levels of education. Considering factors such as densely-populated areas, poor personal and environmental hygiene, as well as low healthcare affordability, it is essential to use all platforms — including social media, radio, television, newspapers, postal mails, and telemarketing to ensure that information reaches everyone.
When these measures are combined with government-imposed social distancing, they can be pivotal in defeating the pandemic.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi