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Ministry of Culture

Nehru Science Centre holds panel discussion on COVID-19 challenges and opportunities

Posted On: 02 JUL 2020 4:37PM by PIB Mumbai

:Mumbai, July 2, 2020

While COVID-19 has been the most serious challenge of 2020, it should be converted into an opportunity. Infrastructural expansion, its optimal utilization, and the functional challenges should be focussed upon, urged Dr. Sunali Khanna, Vice President, Indian Academy of Oral Medicine Radiology. Speaking on how he tamed the challenges of the pandemic to create an isolation centre in Mumbai, Dr. Mufazzal Lakdawala narrated as to how he started out with 7 volunteers – himself, a surgeon, a medical intern, 4 physiotherapists and 24 trainee nurses to start the isolation facility. “I had two ideals - to save lives & to take away the stigmatization patients were facing in the early days of COVID-19 infection”, stated the Head of NSCI Dome COVID-19 Isolation Centre in Mumbai. Ranjit Singh Deol, MD of Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation, feels, the pandemic is going to change our lifestyle, whether at home, office or public places. These views came up in an online panel discussion on ‘Living with COVID -19 and Beyond: Challenges and Opportunities’ that was organized by Nehru Science Centre, Mumbai. Apart from the above panelists, two more prominent personalities – Dr. Mahesh Lalwani, Consultant, Jaslok Hospital and Dr. Dilip Mhaisekar, Vice Chancellor, Maharashtra University of Health Sciences, also shared their views on the topic. The session was moderated by S.M. Khened, Director, Nehru Science Centre.

In the wake of COVID-19, Dr. Sunali Khanna feels, public health infrastructure of rural areas should be focussed upon more, along with places where marginalised people live, old-age homes, homes for differently-abled & orphanages.

Speaking about the Contactless Screening model at  NSCI Dome Containment Zone, Dr. Lakdawala said, “I wanted to take care of my healthcare workers. I put very stringent standards in place, used good quality PPE, masks etc. Managing 150 patients with 2 doctors was not easy. Thus, I started the Contactless screening model”. The NSCI Containment zone has been divided into four areas for ladies, elderly, families & gents. Apart from contactless screening technique,  the healthcare professionals also monitor the oxygen saturation level of patients using the high-powered cameras. This apart, right from the early days of COVID-19, they started using AI with X-Rays to isolate high suspects. On basis of monitoring X-ray, the patients are put on oxygen support way before their saturation would start to drop & that is how their lives get saved. All these steps led to the success seen in COVID-19 cases at NSCI Dome so far. Around 1,600 COVID-19 patients have been treated at NSCI Dome so far; out of which around 1300 patients, consisting of senior citizens, comorbid patients like diabetics and hypertensives, cancer patients, pregnant patients have been discharged after recovery. In all this, no healthcare professional got infected so far”, stated the Head of NSCI Containment Zone.

Speaking about another challenge caused by the pandemic, Ranjit Singh Deol stated, vulnerable sections of society have been affected a lot by COVID-19, both financially as well as psychologically. We have to reach out to them, try to build-up their confidence and provide information regarding enhancing their earnings post COVID-19. About the socio-economical changes that are likely to emerge after the pandemic, he stated, more jobs are likely to emerge in sanitization front, public spaces may require mechanization in sanitization works. This apart, the Aatma Nirbhar Bharat scheme will boost manufacturing sector, he opined. In this context, he informed that some heavy machineries required in metro rail are now being manufactured in India. He further feels, there is a need to keep track of the paradigm shift of jobs across sectors in the new normal as consumption patterns are also likely to change.

Speaking on the challenges faced by the medical professionals, Dr. Lalwani said, it is impossible to know who is a carrier in the pre-symptomatic stage when a patient is the most infective and sheds maximum virus. It is especially a challenging task for dentists to treat patients these days, he said and informed, COVID-19 spreads even during talking. So, it is very important that everybody wears a mask, cautioned the senior doctor. Also, maintaining a 6 feet distance and hand washing keep us reasonably safe, he added.

In order to cope up with the challenge, medical colleges have started e-learning, online lectures & the like. In spite of creating this facility, the challenge remains that almost 25% students stay in rural areas & because of the sudden COVID-19 panic, they went to their homes in rural areas, stated Dr. Mhaisekar. However, the challenge has paved way for an opportunity for the medical colleges faculty members and students. An E-learning Centre is being established by the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences and from the coming batch, every medical student will register in it for academic activities.

In reply to a question on herd immunity, Dr. Lalwani feels, it is a far-fetched concept since it only when happens when 60%-80% percentage of the population gets infected which is going to spell disaster as it will lead to a collapse of the healthcare system and mortality will be on the rise.

Dr. Sunali Khanna stated, a planned immunity building in community is being talked about nowadays. She added, since we don't know about the toxicity quantum, it is better to take some blanket precautions for all, and more so for the vulnerable population, that is, children below 10 years and senior citizens above 60 years.

In his concluding remarks, S.M. Khened stated, COVID-19 will stay for some time now, before it passes out and in this period, we have to adapt to the new normal. He also mentioned about the challenge faced by the Science Centre when lockdown was announced and they had to shut the doors to the audience. But they bounced back with online sessions and webinars and created a virtual connect with its audience.  



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