INDIA is witnessing a gradual return to normalcy following an overwhelming spike in Covid-19 infections during the third wave. From over three lakh cases successively over five days from January 19 to 25, the country’s daily caseload on Tuesday came down to as low as 13,405. Similarly, there have been 235 fresh fatalities, This underlines that the third wave is on its way out. And as an indication that things are improving in the right direction, Dubai has scrapped pre-departure RT-PCR Covid test for Indian travelers. Until recently, the passengers were supposed to take an RT-PCR test at the departure airports within six hours of the flight. Various states in India are also lifting the restrictions including the Covid curfew. India is also restarting regular international travel from March 15 after remaining suspended for nearly two years.
But there is still cause for concern. There is already talk of a fourth wave triggered by new Covid variants. More than two years after the coronavirus first surfaced in China’s Wuhan, the world remains far from getting a grip on it. In the process, the virus has wrought havoc on the global economy. In the first quarter of 2020, India’s GDP declined by one-fourth. It is only now that some recovery is underway. But to keep up the progress, the world needs to act in concert to ensure there is no further surge in cases of infections. This calls for governments around the world to stay alert. There is a greater need for collaboration on vaccination and also strict observance and enforcement of Standard Operating Procedures.
One thing about Omicron-driven wave is that while it has triggered intense flare-ups, there have been less hospitalizations and deaths. In that sense, the mutant is less virulent than the earlier version. Here’s hoping that Omicron spread doesn’t lead to the emergence of yet another deadly variant.
That said, there is still a significant section of the population, both in the country and in J&K, which is without vaccination. And they remain most vulnerable. It is time that they too get their shot. Similarly elderly population and healthcare workers need booster doses. The union government has now fully approved the use of Covaxin and Covishield vaccines which would be now more widely available. The centre has also suggested changes in rules for booster doses. According to these changes, precautionary third doses of vaccines would be given to health and frontline workers and adults above 60 years of age, dealing with illnesses. The recommended gap between the second and the third dose is currently nine months. There is hope that the ongoing wave will be over by the end of this month and by March, the situation could be more or less normal again.
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