‘Maharashtra must prepare for pediatric COVID-19 surge’

(This story was first published in the Times of India on May 2, 2021)

Mumbai:

State Covid Task Force Member and Director of Medical Education TP Lahane said Saturday that the entire medical device needs to be prepared for an ‘unpredictable’ pediatric Covid-19 spike, in terms of infrastructure, drugs, equipment specific to the pediatric age group, standard operating procedure and high level training for medical personnel.

“In the first wave, Maharashtra witnessed one percent of pediatric cases, and in the second wave, it was between 3.5% and 4%. In the third wave, it won’t be surprising if it hits 10%. Initially, the maximum of Covid patients was over 50 years old and in the second wave over 20 years old. Now it appears that even younger people could be infected, ”Lahane told TOI in an interview about measures to prevent a third wave in Maharashtra.

“We have drawn up a multiple strategy to deal with the situation. We will need to strengthen primary health care centers based on war, and the vaccination strategy will need to be based on epidemiological data, integrated district-wise lockdown, international / inter-state travel standards for districts, community and elected representatives involvement and aggressive focus on social media, ”said Lahane . Lahane said aggressive public health measures should be set up in primary health centers in the coming days with the aim of identifying cases and providing treatment at an early stage. “In primary health centers, we will have to detect the disease at an early stage to reduce the severity of the disease and in turn reduce the number of ICU admissions and deaths. Oxygen plants for primary health centers should be made mandatory, ”he said.

As for vaccination strategy, Lahane said it’s a game changer in the real sense, but if the vaccination program isn’t implemented properly, it won’t be effective. “The concept of vaccination should change from age-oriented to comprehensive. We should not look at age groups, but at districts / departments as a unit and plan to vaccinate everyone over 18 years old. Given the acute shortage of vaccines, more emphasis should be placed on districts with more cases or deaths, and a decision made. are taken based on statistics per million rather than total numbers, ”he said. To prevent vaccination centers from being super spreaders, an online system with only appointments must be made mandatory. “In my opinion, the decision to give a free vaccine should be reviewed and implemented with minor changes. Business houses should be given the responsibility to vaccinate their employees and the cost of private vaccination could be reduced to make it more affordable, ”said Lahane.

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