Perils Of Complacency

As has been the case historically, pandemic diseases have a tendency to re-emerge and spread anew, giving rise to a second wave of infection.  This seems to be the case with the present pandemic when seemingly it was on its way out.

After the marked slowdown in the new COVID-19 cases reported daily for last few months, there is again surge in the infections. It points out, in what should worry one and all, towards the beginning of the second wave.

Even though there is more clarity now about how to fight it than in the terrible early months, the damage could be minimized. The battle against the ravaging virus depends on choices people and government make.

For people, this means a commitment to wearing face masks, washing hands and avoiding crowded places. For the administration, the key, as has been stressed upon by the Prime Minister in the meeting with Chief Minister, is building a robust testing, contact tracing and isolating regimen. So far, the record is quite uneven.

The governments have been asked by the centre to scale up RT-PCR tests, create micro-containment zones, increase vaccination in both private and government hospitals and stop vaccine wastage.

It is important to recall that while the pandemic was ebbing, medical experts continued to warn about the unpredictable ways of the virus. And, when the India’s caseload began to dip late last year, they had urged people to not let their guard down. Unfortunately such warnings did not seem to have struck a chord for large sections as people seem impatient to return to normal social life.

The spurt in infections in several parts of Indian including Jammu and Kashmir since last month testifies to the perils of complacency. There are, however, ample reasons why the new wave of infections shouldn’t stoke pessimism. For one, much more is known about the virus in contemporary times than last year when governments across the globe were forced into one of the stringent lockdowns. Fortunately also, there hasn’t been an alarming surge in fatalities.  The second wave may not be as severe as the initial one amid availability of the vaccine. There is, however need for giving a serious thought to opening up vaccination to all age groups in areas grappling with the current surge.  One of the most crucial elements that helped control the first wave was aggressive testing, contact tracing and treatment. All these effort are worth it if a second wave can be avoided or ameliorated.


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