Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya interacted with State Health Ministers, Principal Secretaries, Additional Chief Secretaries of States/UTs and reviewed the public health preparedness to COVID-19 on January 2.
The important take away was fine-tuned warning regarding the highly transmissible omicron: A high surge in the case can overwhelm the medical system and the concerned authorities need to ramp up the infrastructure to meet the challenges as may be posed in due course of time.
Some states or UT have already put into place several curbs, including night curfew, closure of educational institutions, half seating capacity in public transport, etc. As per the government protocol, if the positivity rate continues to rise, it might notify the amber, orange and red alerts, enforcing incremental restrictions with each level, resulting in most economic activities coming to a standstill.
To put in plans for the possible third wave of Covid-19 is good. However the governments must adapt and change plans with the changing situation. In this context, J&K government has already ordered audit of various important aspects and ramping up of the infrastructure. There have been steady rise in cases from last coup of days, hovering in 150 cases per day even as number of the omicron cases has remained to be three as per the official data. Looking at the overall challenges thrown by the omicron, it has already galloped across the U.S. and many countries in Europe at a pace never seen since the pandemic began. The sharp rise in daily cases is not surprising given the highly infectious nature of the Omicron variant. As per credible estimates, it spreads nearly three times faster than the highly Delta variant which otherwise is also highly transmissible. While Omicron has emerged as the dominant variant in a few countries, it has not completely displaced the Delta variant so far even as it threatens to do so in near future. At the same time, it must be borne in mind that Delta has not been defeated. Put another way round, there are twin threats from the two variants. In such a scenario, the government must increase the daily testing numbers with total reliance on RT-PCR testing. One hopes that past mistakes are not repeated when the virus was allowed to spread widely. There must be strict adherence to covid-19 appropriate behavior and all measures, which are identified already, need to be taken without fail.