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Covid-19: India imposes lockdown for 21 days and cases rise

BMJ 2020; 368 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m1251 (Published 26 March 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;368:m1251

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False sense of security against COVID 19 by thermal screening of passengers at airports or ports

Dear Editor

It is of concern about the rising cases of COVID 19 in India. The present system of screening of COVID 19 affected individuals only measures the tip of the iceberg where only persons with raised body temperature are detected. There are instances where individuals have reportedly consumed paracetamol during the flight to suppress their febrile status and got passed through thermal tests. People have the tendency to hide their history of travel abroad during which time they might have passed on the virus to unsuspecting close contacts. After the announcement of complete lockdown in India since 24th March 2020 midnight scores of migrant labourers stranded at their workplace have embarked on different means to reach their homes. Many of them have hid inside trucks carrying vegetables or essential goods, even inside milk tanks of milk vans. A large number of them even have started walking on the roads to reach their destinations. Such measures only show how people do not obey rules and flout the norms.

In fact, for an effective identification of suspect cases, the need of the hour is to appeal to people so that they do not hide their travel history, self declare about their close contact with any suspect or confirmed case so that they can be isolated or adopt home quarantine measures. Fromm the health sector side, intensive measures to identify, record fever cases with or without cough or breathlessness by simple history taking and using thermal thermometers on a daily basis in their health facility or in the community during home visits should be done. People should be informed to report to the health facility if they have any doubt of infection from coming in contact with either a suspected or a confirmed COVID 19 case. While measures for home quarantine of suspected cases for at least 14 days may be simple to announce, the problem in actual implementation needs to be looked at by constant monitoring by neighbours or resident welfare associations.

Competing interests: No competing interests

26 March 2020
MONGJAM MEGHACHANDRA Singh
Director-Professor
Dr.Reeta Devi, Assistant Professor
Department of Community Medicine, Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi; and School of Health Sciences, Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi (India)
Department of Community Medicine, Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi; and School of Health Sciences, Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi (India)