‘Social distancing key in preventing community transmission’
April 06 2020 01:10 AM
People collect grocery items at a distribution centre organised by local clubs in Kolkata yesterday.

IANS/New Delhi

Community transmission of the coronavirus outbreak threat looms large and social distancing has played a major role in checking India’s progress into stage 3, said a leading doctor.
Dr R N Tandon, secretary general of the Indian Medical Association said during the nationwide lockdown, where most of the economic activity has stopped, people should prioritise mental health.
“People have been forcibly given time to do whatever they want. They should positively use this time period. The Janata curfew was in solidarity with people who were quarantined after they tested positive for coronavirus. It was for their good, and also for the good of everybody”, said Tandon.
Tandon said it was too early to say if the virus has mutated and adapted to the country’s climatic condition; largely, it seems the strain is similar to the one found in China.
According to reports, virus mutations are common, but this does not change the virulence of any strain of the coronavirus.
A strain is a sub-type of a virus, which is characterised by different cell surface proteins.
Researchers are tracking the current strains of the Sars-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19.
The strains of the coronavirus have made their way globally, leading to a trail of death and disease.
Coronavirus is an enveloped virus, as it has an outer lipid membrane layer and the same strain with viral load can cause a range in severity of illness.
It is surrounded by a fat layer. How the virus will respond to an increase in the temperature (as the summers approach), is something too early to comment,” Tandon added.
Referring to treatment of Covid-19 patients, Tandon said some patients recover through symptomatic treatment and drugs as prescribed by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
“Hydroxychloroquine is given to people who have been exposed to positive coronavirus patients. Immunity plays a crucial role. The old are vulnerable to this deadly virus,” he added.
Major drugs companies are in the race to roll out point-of-care test for coronavirus by claiming it may make Covid-19 diagnosis  as easy as the flu.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US has authorised the new point-of-care test, and according to manufacturers it is expected the device will be able to deliver results in as little as five minutes.
Recently, Abbott announced it was launching a test that can detect Covid-19 in as little as five minutes – bringing rapid testing to the frontlines, as this portable device can be used in almost any healthcare setting.
Asked on the availability of such devices in the market, Tandon said a coronavirus test is not as easy as a diabetes or pregnancy test.
“The test cannot be carried out at a place where it cannot be controlled. Tests should be carried out in the presence of a doctor,” Tandon said, adding the government has not rolled out any guidelines on the commercial availability of such devices.
The ICMR has also expressed similar reservations on carrying out tests in the absence of medical supervision.

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