States with good primary healthcare system have fared better in containing the spread of COVID-19, biotechnology industry veteran Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw said on Tuesday.
The Executive Chairperson of bio-pharmaceuticals company, Biocon Ltd, also hit out at people not wearing face-masks in public places and said they don't understand the gravity of the disease.
She called for a behavioural change in people with enhanced focus on discipline and cleanliness. Citing Karnataka and Kerala, Mazumdar-Shaw said they have
managed the COVID-19 well as they have got a very good primary health care ecosystem.
Kerala is a shining example of this. She also said that Thailand is able to contain any epidemic as it has an excellent primary healthcare structure. People in countries like Japan, Vietnam and Thailand wear face-masks all the time in public places even before the COVID-19 pandemic.
And then, they are naturally very clean people, disciplined. India will have to become a cleaner country, she told PTI.
What better time than now to focus much more on initiatives like Swachh Bharat and practices such as wearing masks and cleaning hands, she said. According to her, the coronavirus is breaking out in very dense and poor clusters in India.
So, poverty and density of population seem to be a combination, which really allows the virus to spread. One has to do mass testing in those areas, and isolate and quarantine anyone testing positive.
India has no option but to open up the economy with safeguards like temperature checks, mask wearing, physical distancing.
When restrictions are removed, the number of COVID-19 cases is bound to increase and it s not a cause for worry. Mortality rate is what we really need to focus on. Mazumdar-Shaw said this is the time to decentralise responsibilities and empower district administrations to manage the disease by tracing, tracking, isolating and treating infected people.
While one cannot lift the lockdown in places where there is a huge surge in cases, she said all cities should not be declared as red-zones.
For example, wards (there are 200 of them in Bengaluru) which are hot-spots should be sealed off while the rest of the areas should be opened up.
She is finding that uneducated in villages are following the rules like wearing of masks in public places more than the educated in urban areas.
If you go to cities, our people are useless, they are supposed to be educated and they don't even wear a mask. For a country like India, you need strict discipline, Mazumdar-Shaw said, adding, penalty should be mandatorily imposed for spitting in public and not wearing masks.
Somehow, we don't care, we are not disciplined, and everyone thinks I am fine, I am safe, nothing will happen to me, they don't even understand what this viral infection is about.
Nobody can say that they are safe from the virus, she said. It is a behavioural change that we need. And to bring about this kind of behavioural change is
tough but at least there is a fear factor that will bring this behavioural change, Mazumdar-Shaw added.