Third Wave Is Here

IN just a matter of a few days, India is right in the midst of a third wave.  On Monday, the caseload of the fresh Covid infections spiked to 1,80,000, according to the data published by the Union ministry of health and family welfare. The number of active cases is now over 700,000-mark. Even in Jammu and Kashmir, the fresh cases have surged to 706, taking active cases to 4024 in the UT. The upward trend in the cases is likely to continue for some time. Thankfully so far, India is yet to witness the chaos of the second wave that wrought havoc and led to the death of thousands of people.  On a positive note, as of now, only 5 to ten percent of the infected people need hospitalizations.

The number of cases of Omicron, the highly transmissible mutant variant, is also growing. The caseload now stands at 4,033, with Maharashtra recording the maximum number of  1,126 infections.  The number  is likely to increase further given the highly contagious nature of the new variant.

But there is also hope now that eventually the daily caseload will progressively reduce like last year. Manindra Agrawal, Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science at IIT Kanpur, has  predicted third wave peaking in Mumbai and Delhi in mid-January, projecting four to eight lakh cases a day in India. But the consequent improvement in the situation would mean little if there is no corresponding expansion in the vaccination, especially the booster dose to frontline workers and the elderly.

Government also needs to invest in a world class healthcare infrastructure to increase the capacity of the hospitals and the medical personnel to deal with the pandemic.  Unlike last year, there is no scope to implement a nationwide lockdown, although some regions have imposed weekend curbs on movement and the night curfews.  Delhi has ordered bars and restaurants to shut. Tamil Nadu Govt has extended lockdown restrictions till January 31.

But considering the terrible state of the economy, the state governments across India can hardly afford to impose fresh lockdown. The trick is to upgrade healthcare, expedite vaccination include booster doses, enforce strict adherence to SOPs in public and running an advertisement blitz to create more awareness about the contagion.

In fact, India has already begun administering the 'precaution dose' of the Covid vaccine to frontline workers and senior citizens with comorbidities. Eligible beneficiaries can walk-in to their nearby vaccination centre and get the third dose. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also urges eligible beneficiaries to get Covid-19 ‘precautionary dose. “As we all know, vaccination remains among the most effective means to fight Covid-19," PM Modi tweeted and the people need to heed him.

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