Updated: May 11, 2020

He fight against COVID-19 is not a hospital fight.''It's a community level fight.''If your community level measures are good, you can decrease the number of people coming to hospitals, or flatten it.'

IMAGE: Doctors brief a lady who tested negative for COVID-19 in Hyderabad, April 16, 2020. Photograph: PTI

"If we did not have the lockdown, the number of cases would have been much higher. Five or ten times higher," Dr Randeep Guleria, director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, tells Senior Contributor Sheela Bhatt in the first part of an exclusive interview.

What is your view of the medical infrastructure today if compared to pre-COVID-19 days?

If you look at the medical sector, there are two things.

One is, in terms of trying to prepare for a pandemic or an outbreak, which the government and a lot of institutes started, way back in January and February. Seeing the number of cases, and what was happening in China.

Starting from the government screening people, testing -- realising that that would be the need, a lot of things were done.

One is at a national level, to build more and more labs, for testing. So, initially there were very few labs doing viral testing.

That was damn tough. It then became more than a hundred labs. We have now crossed more than 200, 220 labs which can do testing for COVID-19.

Government and institutions also realised that there is need for training.

So a lot of training workshops were held during this time. And also planning for what we will do in case there is an increasing number of cases.

So, from management to equipment to human resources, how can we move human resources from one area to the other?

For doctors who are not in this area, but in other areas. For example, in surgery or in gynacology, how can they help? All that planning was done.

And as the cases started coming in and we had the lockdown, how to make dedicated facilities for COVID-19.

So AIIMS has made one dedicated COVID-19 hospital which is our trauma centre. The trauma centre we have shifted to the other hospital. We've also built another centre in Jhajjar, Haryana.

We have currently about 150 COVID-19 positive patients there.

At our trauma centre, we have now currently seven patients in the ICU.

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