New Delhi: The Delhi government should seek advice from epidemiologists, public health experts, infectious disease experts, and not bureaucrats, said Narottam Puri, Advisor -- FICCI Health Services Committee and Chairman -- Fortis Medical Council & Fortis Healthcare. The government should stop being defensive, become more transparent, otherwise panic will break out, he added.
Speaking to IANS, Puri said Delhi should learn from Kerala, which built extremely good public health infrastructure and the state has also experienced attacks from various viral infections. "India needs to learn from good practices. You need to test, track, trace, treat/isolate. Kerala tested a large number of people. Principles of pandemic management remain unchanged whether it is Spanish flu or any other viral infection. The Delhi government should allow people with doctor's prescription to get tested, of course there cannot be walk-ins, but there cannot be blanket ban on testing," said Puri.
Queried on lack of public health experts, having experience in handling a pandemic, on Delhi government's committee handling Covid-19 crisis, Puri said the government should seek advice from doctors in Kerala and other places, which have done well in tackling the spread of viral infection. "None of the doctors on the committee is a pandemic expert... What is stopping the Delhi government from contacting these experts", said Puri, naming many experts on this issue across India.
He added that in the hour of public health crisis, the government needs all hands on deck, and it not should not engage in discriminatory practices against hospitals, labs and doctors. "The Delhi government must listen to doctors. Seek suggestions from well-known experts in infectious diseases and epidemiologists, and not bureaucrats", said Puri.
Queried on the blanket ban on testing of asymptomatic people in Delhi, Puri said certain groups of people should be tested, for example if it is not known that a person is Covid-19 positive then any surgery performed on this patient could lead to major complexities. "Initially, the government was right not to test everybody, but the situation has changed now. Now, we have more test kits, more knowledge on the viral infection. Since, we have enough RT-PCR kits, then why not test people?" added Puri.
Asked on the issues associated with the availability of beds in Delhi hospitals, Puri said the government should first fill up its hospitals, rather than asking private hospitals to add more beds for Covid-19 cases. He insisted that the government should not test based on the wishes of the people, but people should be tested based on symptoms and history of contact with Covid-19 positive. "People having doctor prescriptions should be tested for Covid-19," Puri insisted.
(Sumit Saxena can be contacted at email@example.com)