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Karnataka Expert Committee on Covid19 lacks expertise

This article has a vested interest. The interest is to protect the people and save the nation in line with sound public health practices and shared wisdom, not confined to the opinions of a few. India must survive, Karnataka must be safe and secure. Our dear countrymen and women must win the war with Covid19. Hum honge kamiyab ek saath !!

One of the reasons why state governments take significant time to engage in best practices is because their committees are formed by “yes men” and those confined to state capitals. They lack a vision to engage with stakeholders outside of state capitals.

There is a document doing the rounds on the exit strategy post lockdown prepared by “expert committee” on Covid19 in Karnataka.

The document grossly lacks planning and developmental actions not in sync with the vision of Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi and team.

Our Prime Minister Modi is working tirelessly to engage the country and the Karnataka State apathy is evidently exposed.

Following are the points:

  1. The committee naturally lacking public health expertise where it  mentions that Covid19 is a 3 month old disease when actually it is belonging to coronavirus RNA family which has been in existence since decades and previous records of such mentions do exist. Yes, the variant is more contagious and aggressive when compared. More so the disease by its very nature was identified in December 2019 in China. So technically it should be 5 month old.
  2. The committee says – “Lockdown of industries will result in economic problems.” but the entire economy is in free fall which calls for re-thinking of a universal basic income for BPL families and also others who are daily wagers. The whole world knows that it causes economy problems. The expectation from “ expert committee” is much deeper than talking casually.
  3. The committee says, “There is no medical reason to believe the lockdown should continue beyond 21 days.”  is pre-mature, foolish and not in tune with epidemiological realities of the global health community. More so a report to Government of Karnataka must not talk about a 1.3 billion population of India. Has no logical co-relation.
  4. The document has no data mapped, no mention of covid hotspots, GIS reports don’t exist.
  5. Breakdown of taluk wise and district wise cases positive, pockets quarantined, total number of testing done till now and covid free zones not shared as a precursory background.
  6. District wise out-break investigation report does not exist. Was it ever done with focused surveillance and strategic testing?
  7. What is the line of engagement with private hospitals, NGOs, Private Doctors, public health practitioners at every level to tackle a post pandemic era ?
  8. What is the effective checks put in place at ports, airports, supply chain processes?
  9. What is the state strategy for agriculture and health of farmers and farm labourers? it is harvest season with 250 lakh quintals of Seeds needed for farmers given the kharif season.
  10. It is peak of summer. The water levels in drought prone areas are fast reducing due to families staying at home – a mitigation plan to avoid water scarce, water washed diseases?
  11. If the lockdown would continue in phases in places, can Section 144 stay with curfew at intermittent time zones to avoid gathering of people.
  12. Faulty recommendation to close inter-state border for public movement is in poor taste. Lot of students from kerala are stranded and they have no place to go, ideally the state must support the departure of the students back to the home and colleges in neighbouring states.
  13. Plan of action on how to engage civil society working with different districts has no passing mention, because the expert committee lacks expertise.
  14. The document goes on to say again that have a core team at Bangalore ? I understand the conflict of interest, but rest of the state are as important if not more important that focusing on state capital alone. The committee must mature with inclusion.
  15. The committee goes on by suggesting monitoring by tracking mobile, and by area pin-code. In an age where satellite imaging can be done, this obsolete thought is being floated to the political class for consideration.
  16. The circulating document ends with a photo of a foreigner collecting mask somewhere in Asian shores. Required ? Relevant ?

My recommendation:

The committee must first be sphere headed by Infectious Disease experts, community health and public health experts, waste management experts, virologist and microbiologist, and those who understand biostatistical modelling including economist, not by what it is currently with political loyalists who lack knowledge of public health and policy.

Additionally, district wise consensus, online invitation of suggestions by doctors, nurses who are the frontline of Covid19 response must be factored into very seriously and to the dot.

May be grow in wisdom. Jai Hind. Jai Karnataka.

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