Shillong (Meghalaya ), May 11 :As per government notification it is reported from Public Health experts that the actual number of Covid-19 cases in the state could be upto 25 times higher than the numbers recorded. This is due to the fact that many cases are asymptomatic, or people are not coming forward for testing due to denial or fear of stigmatization. Hence many silent carriers are likely present and are spreading the virus within the communities and families.And since the 1st of May, 2021, there has been a sharp and continuous spike in COVID-19 cases & deaths in East Khasi Hills District, with 2098 cases and 59 deaths reported in just 11 days.
This amounts to an average of 191 cases and 5 deaths per day. Hospitals are reporting saturation of beds including ICU facilities. While a majority of the deaths are of those who are elderly or with comorbidities, some are also between 20-50 years of age and with no co-morbidities.
And despite a lockdown and curb on movement and activities, the high number of cases reflects widespread transmission. While the mobility lockdown may help contain spread of the virus in public spaces, spread within the family/ close communities is already happening and may rise in the coming days.
And since the government has directed that “all attempts should be made at this juncture to handle the numbers of symptomatic patients at the household/ community level efficiently and in a structured manner to avoid panic and chaos as has been witnessed in other states”,
Therefore, in view of the facts above, it is imperative that the following steps be followed by all citizens, with immediate effect:-
1. Everyone should consider themselves to be asymptomatic carriers and follow COVID Appropriate Behaviour at all times, namely:-
a. Mask wearing should be strictly followed even in one’s own home in the next 14 days.
b. Complete home isolation is to be observed by citizens, and no inter-house visits are permitted especially in close neighborhoods.
c. While shops selling essential commodities are permitted to open in the localities, only one member per household is allowed to come out for purchase of essentials. Time spent for this purpose should be the bare minimum.
d. 50% of cases reported in the last week are of High Risk Contacts, who are mostly family members, co-workers, neighbours and other known persons of positive cases. Hence care should be taken at all times even in homes, community or work spaces.
2. People who have moved out of the house, or have breached the mask protocol at any time when interacting with others not of their family, or who have moved in crowded spaces must take steps to stringently wear masks, practice hand hygiene and distance themselves from other family members. As far as practicable, families can demarcate separate living spaces which symptomatic persons, or mobile persons can occupy.3. All persons displaying symptoms of cough, fever, etc., should isolate themselves immediately, even if not tested. Report symptoms to 14410 and to the nearest health care provider. Begin home management of mild symptoms as prescribed by the Health Department.
4. Elderly persons or persons with medical conditions are instructed to stay at home at all times. Elderly and co-morbid people in the community will be line-listed by health workers. CCMTs may assist in submitting the names of such persons to the local health centre.
5. High risk contacts awaiting testing or test results must not ignore symptoms, and report themselves to 14410.
The only evidence-based health approach to stop & kill the virus is through physical distancing, hand washing before touching your eyes, nose and mouth and wearing a mask in public places. The only way to protect the vulnerable population from severe infection and death is through vaccination.