- An increase in number of cases is seen in the past couple of weeks: Expert
- We all need to follow COVID-appropriate behaviour: Expert
- There is a need to escalate vaccination to fight the pandemic: Expert
New Delhi: Giving hopes to people, the Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan on Sunday (March 7) said that the country can be optimistic as it is in the “endgame of the novel coronavirus pandemic” and urged people to trust the science, vaccines and ensure that their near and dear ones get vaccination on time in order to defeat the pandemic. Earlier, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain had also said that the pandemic may be over soon. However, since the COVID-19 cases are rising in some states, can these positive statements from ministers increase the possibility of people who are already tired of the pandemic, become more complacent and irresponsible thinking that the pandemic is ending?
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has cautioned the government about not letting the people lower their guard against the disease. It said in a statement,
It is painful to note the discussion on endemic vs pandemic status of disease is echoing in the political corridors, however it ought to be substantiated by scientific evidence by the World Health Organisation or ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) only.
The IMA highlighted that various parts of the country have reported a surge of 35-40 per cent in the number of cases including the national capital. It has urged the citizens to stay vigilant about wearing masks and maintaining physical distancing.
While talking to NDTV about the Health Minister’s statement, Dr. Yatin Mehta, Chairman, Medanta Critical Care Institute said.
I would like to emphasise on the fact that our leaders are trying to be positive and give us hope. There is nothing wrong with that, but people should not take this as a signal for doing whatever one wants to. The danger is not over. We all have to continue taking the same precautions as people were taking before vaccination started. We have inoculated two crore people which is a good number, but it is still very less when compared to the total population.
He further said that the next few months are very important in the fight against COVID-19 and people must act sensibly during this time. He said,
The incidence of cases has gone up a little bit in the last couple of weeks because people have started being complacent. We need to be sensible for the next few months. If we control this and the vaccination programme continues as it is and people continue taking precautions, then I think we should be alright in a few months.
Dr. Hemant Deshmukh, Dean of KEM Hospital, Mumbai, explained that the ‘Endgame’ or the exit strategy from the pandemic can only happen when the number of cases or the frequency of detection of positive cases is on the decreasing side. He said,
When I say that pandemic is getting over, this means that the deaths are almost coming to zero, we are on the verge of the entire nation getting vaccinated especially the population between the age group of 35 to 45 who are vulnerable due to co-morbidities like heart diseases, hypertension. I think the exit strategy will work only when an adequate mass of the population is vaccinated.
Commenting on the current speed of vaccination and the target of immunising 30 crore people in few months, Dr Mehta said,
In a month’s time, I suppose the vaccine should be easily available in the market and we should have new vaccines soon. So, I think the shortage of the vaccine will be over soon and I think we are doing good, but we need to escalate it. We need to make the process easier and not make it mandatory to go through the Co-WIN App. As senior citizens, particularly in the rural area, may find it difficult.
According to the Union Health Minister, the government has already involved private players in COVID-19 vaccination, and if hospitals want, they can conduct vaccination 24×7. Experts believe that this move will help in increasing the number of people vaccinated per day and thus make the target closer. They highlighted that with cases slowly creeping up, the government must continue taking measures to make vaccination more popular among people and recommended that people must continue following COVID-19 protocols.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.