We are close to the peak of the epidemic and we don't have the scope to turn back. Now all government organisations will have to work together taking all the people of the country along with them. We will control coronavirus together. Control means preventing its transmission. If transmission takes place, there will be patients and deaths.
If we want to withdraw our lockdown, we have to increase our testing capacity to more than 20,000 a day.
When more than 20,000 tests will be done daily, then if anyone anywhere in the country gets coronavirus symptoms, they will undergo the test, and if the result turns out positive, they will be isolated immediately. Then the disease will not spread anymore.
When we reach the position to identify everyone, and we will be able to prevent the spread of the disease through isolating patients this way, then the lockdown will be withdrawn.
Transmission can be curbed when we are in a position to identify most patients. Our target is to minimise the death toll. One cannot be done if the other is not accomplished. If the lockdown is withdrawn before doing this, the disease will spread.
The World Health Organisation will create pressure if the lockdown is not withdrawn even after two to three months. If coronavirus continues in our country, we will be isolated from others. If others can control the virus, then they will not allow us in their countries. Then our business will incur losses.
That is why we have to fully utilise the lockdown. We will get the solution if we can isolate everyone after increasing our testing capacity. Otherwise, 60-70 percent people will be infected. We cannot see transmission but we see the deaths.
The duty of clinicians is to prevent death of patients. But, now we see patients are dying due to the shortage of oxygen because the ICU and ventilator facilities in our country are very inadequate. We have only a few hundred ventilators for 17 crore people. They will be finished if 100 or 200 patients need ventilators. Because, when a patient is put on a ventilator, they will remain admitted for at least 10 days. Besides, we have non-coronavirus patients too.
We have to make sure that the treatment of non-Covid-19 patients is not stopped. That is why we have to bring changes to the health system during such a pandemic. But, we have not been able to do that yet.
Meanwhile, coordination has now improved from what it was before. Still, we are far away from the command and control, and the principal and control necessary to control an epidemic.
It is necessary to form a taskforce to observe the health of patients and to guide the government. Now we see doctors and nurses are getting infected every day.
We have one of the lowest doctor-patient ratios in the world. We had a shortage of health care providers even during regular times. That is why to cover such a notorious epidemic, we do not have the capacity to lose a single health care provider. We have to give importance right now so that our health care providers get enough personal protective equipment and other safety material.
Professor Ridwanur Rahman is the Head of Research Centre at Universal Medical College