IN a sign that the coronavirus cases are drastically declining in the country, around 1.32 lakh fresh cases have been recorded on Wednesday, which is a two-third from the peak of infections at 4.14 lakh. Deaths similarly have declined to 3207 from around 4500. This has taken the official count of fatalities to 3.35 lakh. This figure, however, is strongly contested. Many media reports have put the number of deaths several times higher and blamed the government for deliberately underestimating the scale of the tragedy. But the undercounting of the deaths doesn't take away from the fact that the fresh cases are now declining fast. Now 344 districts — nearly half of India’s 718 districts — are reporting seven-day positivity of less than 5 per cent. That’s an improvement from the week ending May 7, when only 92 districts reported a positivity rate of under 5 per cent,
It is true that some states like Tamil Nadu are still struggling to reign in the contagion. On Wednesday, the southern state logged the highest number of 26,513 infections. But it is hoped that the state will also peak soon like the other parts of the country. The cases in New Delhi which had witnessed mayhem during April and first half of May have witnessed a steep decline.
The reason for the drop in cases can be attributed to a blend of lockdown and vaccination. So far, 70 per cent of the vulnerable population and 32 per cent of those in the 45+ age group have either been vaccinated or have received their first dose. The centre has now set for itself the ambitious goal of vaccinating the entire country by the end of this year. So, the effort is to pace up the vaccination drive. However, it won't be easy to accomplish the massive task. More so, with vaccines still in short supply.
Going forward, the government has to make a sparing use of lockdown, enforce Covid-appropriate behaviour and speed up the vaccination to ensure that the third Covid-19 wave doesn't rear its head. Vaccination, however, will hold the key. The decreasing trend of the infections is a good news. The government should now build upon it by scaling up the production of vaccines. Much is at stake in India. The economy that was battered last year can't afford one more year of disruption. Already lakhs of people are jobless or have had their incomes truncated. So, an extended lockdown is ruled out. There's no other option but to vaccinate a critical mass of people to get a handle on the pandemic.
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