'I would like to reassure the general populace that your government, both Centre and state and the city councils are working at an accelerated pace.'
Dr Sanjay Oak heads the nine-member medical task force for Maharashtra that was very recently instituted to help Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and his government conquer COVID-19.
"We are all working eventually for the betterment of the city and the state, because all of us love our city and love our people," Dr Oak tells Rediff.com's Vaihayasi Pande Daniel in the concluding segment of a two-part interview.
The main problem that Mumbai and Maharashtra faces is density of population. So, how will this catch up game with testing happen?
As we speak today (April 17) we have the good news that China sent a huge consignment of those test kits now to India. So, I think, Delhi received it yesterday.
I would expect that they would distribute it, as per the caseloads and the need, all across the states. We will have an extra number of kits that we need to further augment our testing.
The second thing is that we have now put down the guidelines and rules as to when the tests are to be done, to whom it has to be done and at what interval it may or may not be repeated.
Once these things are in place -- which are already in place now -- I suppose the picture will be far better.
I spoke to an infectious disease specialist from Kerala and he was talking about morbidity in his state.
With regard to morbidity, does Mumbai have a higher morbidity for any reason or no?
Kerala and Maharashtra have two basic differences. The first important difference is the population density.
If you consider a ten by ten square feet space on practical terms, like how many people would stay (in that space) in Kerala and how many more would stay in Maharashtra.
Secondly, as you know Mumbai and Maharashtra is an industry capital and Kerala is a very educated state of ours. So the IEC (Information, Education, Communicate and Counselling) situation is far better in Kerala, as compared to Maharashtra.
Second thing about Maharashtra is the age and the comorbidities that people have -- if you have diabetes, if you have hypertension, if you have asthma and other things.
So we do have more?
I wouldn't say Kerala doesn't have. But the density of the comorbidity in the population is definitely very high in Maharashtra.
What are your words of reassurance or hope as head of the task force, you can offer to the people of Maharashtra, during this time, as COVID-19 cases and deaths rise and the situation looks frightening?
I would like to reassure the general populace that your government, both Centre and state and the city councils are working at an accelerated pace.
We are all working together. We are all working eventually for the betterment of the city and the state, because all of us love our city and love our people.
They have to help us.
We normally say we help others.
This is the time, when I say, we have to help ourselves.
And how do we help?
We help it by social distancing, staying indoors, and following the norms and rules that we are proposing to them.
That's all that I have to say.