Second Wave

Second Wave of Covid-19 has been confirmed. According to All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) chief Dr Randeep Guleria, it is going to be severe unless people follow appropriate behaviour and are quickly vaccinated. He also attributed the recent spike in infections to “slip-ups in precautionary measures and variants of the virus”.

The top doctor has also warned cases could spread even more rapidly if basic protective steps like wearing masks and rigorous contact-tracing are not followed.

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 recently, 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.

Experts see complacency due to belief among people that the pandemic is over because vaccines are here. They also point out that there is laxity in the basic principle of testing, tracking, and isolating than what was immediately after the outbreak of the pandemic last year. Importantly also, there is need to recognize with seriousness that the virus itself is mutating and some of the variants are more infectious. The complacency this time road could prove disastrous as number of cases and mortality could both rise, the experts warn.

The administration, especially in Srinagar, has recently warned to go tough against those failing to wear face masks. It should be done sans exaggerations which otherwise bring to question implementing modes. Also there is need to develop containment zones besides aggressive testing and quarantining the infected.  The pandemic is an unpredictable creature in many ways and cannot be stopped only with government efforts. People have to be alert at all times until the pandemic is declared to be well and truly over.

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