Guwahati, Wednesday, September 16, 2020
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State has reached COVID-19 community transmission stage, claims Dr UC Sarma
R Dutta Choudhury
 GUWAHATI, Sept 15 - Assam is facing an explosive situation as COVID-19 pandemic has reached the community transmission stage and all sections of people will have to remain very alert and strictly follow the guidelines issued by the Government to protect themselves from the disease. This was the view expressed by noted epidemiologist and former Vice Chancellor of Srimanta Sankardeva University of Health Sciences, Dr Umesh Chandra Sarma.

 Talking to The Assam Tribune, Dr Sarma observed that the death toll is also increasing as the number of infected people has increased considerably in recent times, while, lack of awareness among the people is a cause of serious concern. He expressed the view that to reduce death rate, the Government would have to increase the number of intensive care unit (ICU) beds. “The Government has started efforts to increase the number of ICU beds and at the same time, the hospital beds will have to be increased. But only increasing hospital and ICU beds will not solve the problem if the people are not careful,” he added.

Dr Sarma said that the Government has launched a drive to create awareness among the people through print and electronic media, but a large chunk of the population is out of reach of the media. At the same time, the educated people are also not observing the COVID-19 protocols, which is unfortunate, he said. He pointed out that a large number of people are not using masks while venturing out in public places , while, a section is using masks as “necklace” rather than properly covering nose and mouth. He admitted that the efforts to force people to wear masks in public places are also not paying dividends. However, at the same time, he said that awareness campaign and enforcement should continue in the days to come.

The epidemiologist said that herd immunity is the key in preventing spreading of diseases like COVID-19. He said that herd immunity can be achieved in two ways—natural and vaccination. He said that attempts to achieve herd immunity through natural process would be a dangerous one as large number of people would be infected and many lives would be lost. It may take some time before a vaccine to prevent spread of COVID-19 becomes available and till then, people would have to fight with the disease with behavioural changes. Simple behavioural changes like wearing masks in public places, maintaining social distancing and maintaining hand hygiene can prevent spread of the disease to a great extent and sooner all sections of people learn that is better for the society, he added.

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