Bracing For Third Wave

INDIA is once again witnessed a fresh surge in Covid infections. And it appears that the third wave is just around the corner. On Wednesday India recorded over 90,000 new Covid-19 cases. This has forced New Delhi to impose a weekend curfew. Punjab and Karnataka have followed suit. In Mumbai, the government has made rapid RT-PCR test mandatory for all international passengers landing at the international airport. Mumbai is also leading with the largest number of infections at 10,860 cases followed by Delhi at 5,481 cases. Cases are sing in Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore.

Considering the fresh wave is riding on the back of the new virus mutant Omicron, the situation could get much worse unless the government takes swift pre-emptive measures.  For now, the number of infections is getting bigger and bigger every day. Unless the union government is prepared, this could take a massive toll on the healthcare infrastructure.  The facilities at the hospitals still aren’t sufficient enough to take the brunt of an all-encompassing Omicron wave. . Any further increase in the cases could trigger chaos. Hospitals could run short of beds and patients could once again scramble for oxygen cylinders, medicines and medical equipment such as oxygen concentrators.

Before the situation gets to this point, there is a need for awareness and sensitization of the people about the unfolding grave situation. The union government has to take a lead in this, so also the media. People need to be cautioned, even made to fear what's coming. Only strict observance of the Standard Operating Procedure by the people could see us through this crisis. But this has not so far been the case, at least not to the extent that is required to get a grip on the runaway spike.

Many things other than enforcing the lockdown could be done. For one, there's an urgent need to enforce safety precautions in order to contain the pandemic. And to start with, there has to be an aggressive campaign to enforce the use of masks. More alarmingly, the masks are conspicuously absent from the faces of a significant number of the people walking on the streets or those of the passengers using public transport. And none of these violators is taken to task.

Much is at stake in India. The economy that was battered over the last two years can't afford one more year of disruption. In Kashmir too, the vaccination and booster doses should be pursued on a war footing to get the situation back on rails. Other than some brief periods of normalcy now and then, the Valley has been shut down for nearly two years. On the national level, having experienced the devastating fallout of the second Covid wave, the government can’t afford to be caught unprepared for yet another wave.

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