Needless to say, the post- Covid-19 outbreak era seems to be a new reality. And, it is no more about staying within the four walls or washing hands frequently or carrying sanitisers each time you step out or working from home for a specific period that we call a lockdown. Time has come to embrace the new normal and learn to coexist with the virus that has taught us the necessity of discipline, preventive measures and a lot more. At the present time when a large number of countries are not able to control the increasing contraction of the virus despite imposing lockdowns, it is time we look up to Japan that could literally pause the spread of the virus without having to call for a lockdown or ban anybody’s movement.
Like India, Japan too is known for its high population density and bulk of elderly population. Still, it was no rocket science for them to curb the spread, thanks to their inherent sense of discipline and self-monitored lifestyle along with the brilliant strategy of the Japanese healthcare services that helped them shun the virus. Sakra World Hospital that boasts of its Japanese lineage, have meticulously drafted a strategy of coexisting with Covid-19, be it from the perspective of a healthcare provider that could offer prompt and adequate treatment to those who are infected and need the most or from the perspective of an individual’s lifestyle that could help contain the massive spread.
Coinciding with Covid-19 as a healthcare provider
It may sound like a mammoth task but it is not. In a country like India where the major scare lies in not being able to provide adequate healthcare infrastructure and facilities to a large number of infected people requiring treatment at the same time, the Japanese strategy of limited testing can come to the rescue.
Here’s how limited testing can cause the Eureka moment in the history of Coronavirus pandemic in India. If the government could make it mandatory for a person to have a doctor’s diagnosis before they could access testing and strictly make people follow a basic norm of visiting the doctor if and only if they have continuous fever for four days, it can create wonders in several ways. Only those who are Covid-19 infected would have majority access to testing. This would automatically create a barrier preventing people with mildly symptomatic Covid-19 from accessing testing. The number of patients actually requiring treatment will be limited and the medical staff could concentrate on only patients with severe symptoms, thereby reducing the risk of infection to medical staff themselves. Also, with restriction on access to testing, there will be a lesser chance of asymptomatic people visiting the screening centres and contracting the infection. With limited testing, the true case fatality rate (CFR) would be more genuine giving a clearer picture of the pandemic outbreak for the experts to assess and monitor.
Limiting Covid-19 screening can help prevent social chaos
Restricting the opportunity of testing can actually help India to prevent social disruption and prevent unnecessary social panic and medical collapse. That’s what has exactly happened in Japan. There was hardly any lockdown resulting in disruption of the economy, business and more. Strict nation-wide lockdown has made India already suffer. The socially vulnerable population including the senior citizens were adversely affected, be it the inconvenience they faced in fetching their essentials and medicines or getting appropriate access to healthcare services for other diseases they are suffering from. A limit on the testing could help prevent the spread of unnecessary panic, curb the flow of fake and negative news affecting citizens mentally and physically and considerably reduce stress, anxiety and other psychological issues.
Regulating lifestyle can help us cohabit with Covid-19
Coronavirus outbreak is not a matter of a few days or weeks or months or years. It is essential for us to accept that we will have to discipline our lifestyle to co-exist and thrive with the virus until we have a vaccine against it. Just like Japan, we should ensure we regulate our lifestyle in a way that could keep the virus at bay. Mask wearing every time we step out or are in any public place and removing shoes whenever we step indoors must be made a habit. We should get used to not shaking hands or hugging anyone in public while greeting them. We do have other contact-less native ways and let us start practicing them more often. We should maintain a healthy diet and keep an eye on checking obesity levels, as Japan has done. Appropriate weight management keeps aside comorbidities and boosts body immunity that can help us tackle the virus more efficiently.
Japanese discipline and insightful strategy could be an example for us to co-exist with Covid-19 and adapt to the new normal. This can certainly provide us the ray of hope and optimism outweighing the grim pandemic-induced condition across the globe.
BY: Dr Bevin D’Silva , Head & Senior Consultant, Department of Emergency Medicine, Sakra World Hospital