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HomeInterviewInterview | "COVID will stay for a longer time": Dr Thadhani

Interview | “COVID will stay for a longer time”: Dr Thadhani

“Wearing a mask is much more important than social distancing and handwashing”, says Dr Thadhani

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Maharashtra reports a significant rise in fresh Covid-19 cases. Amid talk of an extended lockdown and guidelines to curb the coronavirus spread. People’s litharge and administrative incapability, reasons are many. Afternoon Voice has taken the expert opinion of Doctor Amit Thadhani, a consulting general surgeon and Director at Niramaya Hospital in Navi Mumbai.
Over a telephonic interview with Hema Singh, Dr Thadhani has shared his insight on the second wave of COVID-19 and its consequences.

India has surged in new Covid cases, there is a tremendous rise in coronavirus cases in the country. What could be the reason behind this?

There are various reasons for the huge spread of Coronavirus. The situation is more complex than one could imagine. It is a combination of people becoming careless and the government becoming lenient.

Look at the way the social gatherings, weddings, election rallies are happening, as if everything is normal. People have no deterrence to the pandemic.  

People have already resumed their normal lives and they are conveniently flouting the norms by not wearing masks or following social distance rules. They need to understand that the pandemic is here to stay and everyone should take responsibility for preventing the spread. 

India’s foremost epidemiologists had warned that if the government and the citizens do not act immediately the second wave could be worse than the first, what’s your take on this?

It is already worse! We are running out of beds, we are running out of oxygen supply, what could be worse than this? The condition is getting worse as compared to the first wave. The only thing better here is that we know what to do, what measure can be taken and how to deal with it.

Why do you feel that the cases would rise from the end of April in Maharashtra?

It is going to arise sooner or later in all states. And if you see the pattern in some states, they have cases fallen now though could rise later. It is following the pattern where it goes lull for a few months and then booms again, so it’s just a matter of time. Most of the big states are showing an increase in the number of cases.

Why have people relaxed amid the pandemic and gone carefree without any safety measures?

There is a constant bombardment of misinformation that COVID is gone or “Corona jaisa kuch nahi hain” (there is nothing like corona) or we have already defeated Corona. There is a lot of misinformation that is going around the virus and because of this people are becoming carefree. Also, people are somewhere willing to get back to their normal life. 

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A health worker interacts with a resident of Dharavi slum during door-to-door screening for COVID-19 testing, in Mumbai | Image Courtesy: PTI

What are your suggestions to the government?

Only two things I want to suggest to the government – build capacity to manage more patients and mass access of masks on a war footing in all the states. Because these are the only two things, we can do to control the spread of the virus; as there’s no escape from this.

How long do we have to deal with COVID?

It will stay for a longer time. Right now, it is in a pandemic form after the pandemic we will have a post-pandemic, where the disease goes into a long-time mode. But if the entire population is vaccinated then the level of threat from the virus will be nothing more than a common cold; only the occasional serious patient coming up. 

Does one need to change his/her diet to stay protected from the virus?

People should eat healthy food that they are normally eating. Just consume a good amount of food and a normal healthy diet. There is nothing specific diet that one can follow to avoid being ill.

What is your understanding of the scale and speed of spread of Covid in Maharashtra and Mumbai?

In Mumbai, the population density is high compared to various other cities where the wave started before Mumbai. Like the cities for example Amravati and Akola are showing a huge spike in cases before Mumbai started spiking. And in all these areas the local panchayat elections were going on and the wedding and other social gatherings were happening. So, the combination of these two factors has mostly led to huge explosions in cases. 

Some experts and doctors are claiming that vaccination is the only long-term remedy for Covid and if we follow it meticulously then the third wave, (if at all it comes) won’t be too severe, do you also feel the same?

Yes… of course! Vaccination is the only remedy for COVID-19. Otherwise, we will have the third, fourth and fifth waves also coming in.

Will there be a permanent solution ever? 

If we have a mass vaccination drive for the virus then we will be able to reduce the status of cold, cough; later we can deal with it. 

Lastly, apart from maintaining hand hygiene and social distancing, what else can people do to protect themselves?

Mask and vaccination! People have to wear the mask properly once they are stepping out. A mask is the most important thing than social distancing and hand washing. Also, the moment you are eligible for the vaccine, go and get it done. 

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