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News18 » India
3-min read

Indian-American Doctors Seek Total Lockdown of US as Coronavirus Deaths Cross 200

The association of Indian-origin doctors called for governments and policymakers to advocate to strengthen action to prevent the crisis from becoming 'unmanageable.'

PTI

Updated:March 20, 2020, 11:00 AM IST
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Robyn Kincaid, technical specialist, puts on protective gear as gets ready to work with coronavirus samples while researchers begin a trial to see whether malaria treatment hydroxychloroquine can prevent or reduce the severity of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. March 19, 2020. REUTERS/Craig Lassig
Robyn Kincaid, technical specialist, puts on protective gear as gets ready to work with coronavirus samples while researchers begin a trial to see whether malaria treatment hydroxychloroquine can prevent or reduce the severity of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. March 19, 2020. Representative Image. REUTERS/Craig Lassig

Washington: Concerned over the rapid spread of the deadly coronavirus across the US, an influential group of Indian-American doctors has urged the federal and State governments to enforce a total lockdown and self-quarantine of the entire nation to flatten the curve of COVID-19 infections.

A total of 218 people have died in the US due to the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic, while there are 14,299 confirmed infected cases in the country. Coronavirus cases have been reported in all the 50 States in the US and District of Columbia as well as Puerto Rico.

Globally, the death toll from the virus has risen to over 9,800 with more than 232,650 cases in 158 countries and territories.

"American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin or AAPI urges the federal, state and local governments and policy makers to advocate for more immediate and severe action to prevent the crisis from becoming unmanageable," said Suresh Reddy, AAPI president.

Representing nearly 100,000 physicians of Indian-origin in the United States, AAPI is the largest ethnic medical association in the country.

AAPI members are concerned over the growing COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on its society, healthcare system and economy, Reddy said.

"While applauding our fellow healthcare workers, including physicians, nurses, EMS, paramedics, medical assistants, and healthcare professionals, we are saddened that many of these heroes are being infected with COVID-19 while treating patients and often without personal protection equipment, endangering their safety and that of their families," Reddy said.

"We urge the authorities to provide the much-needed equipment, testing and facilities enabling them to be isolated and treated, which will reduce our healthcare workforce at precisely the time we need them to be healthy and treating patients," he said.

Since the coronavirus outbreak in China's Wuhan city in December, AAPI has had several meetings.

"In our efforts to contain and prevent this pandemic, we are recommending that the authorities across the nation implement and enforce a total lockdown of the nation, social distancing, and enforce self-quarantine of the total population, as has been practiced in other countries in order to flatten the infection curve," said Deeptha Nedunchezian, chair of AAPI's COVID-19 Response Task Force.

Arunachellum Einstein, member of the AAPI's COVID-19 Response Task Force, said, with as many as 222,642 confirmed corona-virus cases across the world, nearing 10,000 confirmed cases in the US alone and with nearly 10 per cent of those tested for the coronavirus confirmed to be positive for the virus, AAPI is alarmed with the current response from the authorities.

"We are seeing that the rate of infection for COVID-19 in the United States is doubling every 48-72 hours. For each diagnosed case, recent data shows that there are likely 10 undiagnosed carriers who can further infect the population," Einstein said.

Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, president-Elect of AAPI, expressed great concern over the current rate of infections, saying it will have a materially adverse effect on both the senior populations and fellow physicians and healthcare workers who are on the front lines fighting the infection.

"It's essential to create a wholesale expansion of free COVID-19 testing available in order for identifying asymptomatic carries and then isolating them," he said.

Anupama Gotimukula, AAPI vice president warned that if the current trend continued without effective action: "we would likely only see an effect on infection rates in 5-6 days, which means we could expect a tripling of infections and deaths in the interim."

During the COVID-19 national emergency, which also constitutes a nationwide public health emergency, covered health care providers subject to the HIPAA rules may seek to communicate with patients, and provide telehealth services, through remote communications technologies.

"We appreciate regulations that remove HIPAA requirements for telemedicine to allow easier adaption and implementation," said Ravi Kolli, AAPI secretary.

AAPI is urging the government to make telemedicine to be allowed for services and enforce that all insurance companies and government systems reimburse for services provided by medical professionals in these critical times.

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