After Third Covid Wave

INDIA on Wednesday recorded a total of 6,561 new coronavirus cases, in a sign of fast declining infections across the country. The total tally of COVID-19 cases is now 4,29,45,160, while the active cases have dipped to 85,680, according to the Union Health Ministry data. 142 more people have lost their lives to the infection. The cases have plummeted drastically since the spike of over three lakh cases a day over five consecutive days in January. India was then in the thick of the third wave. If anything, this shows that the wave, also called the Omicron outbreak, may be over now. This has made it possible for the country to open up. Some states such as  Goa have already resumed economic activities to their 100 percent capacity.

India, however, remains cautious about restoring International travel which otherwise was set to resume in March. In view of the pandemic, regular international flights were  suspended in March 2020 and that continued till February 28, 2022. But on Monday, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation extended the suspension till further orders.

This, in part, is good news for tourism in Kashmir which has immensely benefited from the extended ban on international flights.  The last two years, especially the winters, have witnessed a large number of tourists from across the country making their way to the Valley. This has given a much needed leg up to an otherwise battered economy of the region.

The declining cases, meanwhile, have enabled the country to reopen its schools. The government of Jammu and Kashmir has also followed suit. This shows there is now confidence that the once runaway Covid-19 pandemic has been reigned in to a point where the economy as a whole can be reopened.

But does this mean that the pandemic may finally be on its way out? Though there is some cause for optimism here, things could still turn messy if the existing pandemic-related precautions are thrown to the winds. Omicron wave was gigantic in nature but its fallout was cushioned by the relatively moderate nature of the virus. Now there is talk of sub-variants of the Omicron virus which could in time trigger yet another wave. So people have to continue to take care. It is too soon to abandon the masks or give up the use of sanitizers. The Standard Operating Procedures remain as relevant as they did when the pandemic broke out in early 2020.  Meanwhile, we can celebrate our triumph on yet another Covid wave with the least number of fatalities to date.

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