- India has over 71 lakh confirmed COVID-19 cases, nearly 9 lakh are active
- Sustaining the decline trend is the biggest challenge: AIIMS Director
- Cold temperature enables virus to survive for longer period: Dr Guleria
New Delhi: On a positive note for the nations’ fight against COVID-19 pandemic, India has seen a declining trend in the percentage of active cases and a rising percentage of recovered cases. Despite the confirmed cases being over 71 lakh, there are nearly 9 lakh active cases. Furthermore, the number of cases being reported daily, which had touched 90,000 marks four weeks ago, is now reduced to 66,000 cases, as October 12, saw 66,732 fresh cases. Dr Randeep Guleria, the Director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), says that despite the downward trend in COVID-19 cases, it is important to sustain this in the coming festive season and winter months.
Talking about if India has crossed the peak of COVID-19, Dr Guleria told NDTV,
The current trend of the COVID-19 situation in India is encouraging. We need to see the downward trend for two weeks or so, to be more confident. But we should also be a little more vigilant, because we are heading for two situations that can be crucial and may lead to a rise in cases. One is the festive season, where people may start going to functions and could lead to crowding. It could be Dussehra, it could be Durga Puja or Chhathh, we have to be extremely careful about that. Secondly, we are heading towards the winter months and a lot of respiratory viruses tend to have a spike in the season. These two situations are a cause of concern, but we are showing a downward trend which is extremely satisfying.
Further highlighting the season change and onset of winters, Dr Guleria explained how this could impact India’s COVID-19 situation.
Data suggests that respiratory viruses and infections, mainly influenza, tend to become much more prevalent during the winter months. Not only in our country, but even the data from countries like Europe and America suggests the same. India’s data suggests that our influenza spike takes place either in Monsoons or in Winters. Therefore, it is likely that there could be an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.
He says that this could be due to two reasons, first being the cold temperature enabling the virus to survive for a longer period in the environment. And during the winters, we tend to stay indoor and may crowd indoor, without proper ventilation to keep warm, which leads to a higher chance of the virus spreading from one individual to another.
It is important to note that India’s cases are decreasing despite a rise in testing. On October 11, the country tested close to 10 lakh samples. Highlighting the dip in the daily recorded COVID-19 cases, from 90,000 to 70,000, Dr Guleria says to sustain the trend is the biggest challenge right now.
The biggest challenge right now is to sustain this downward trend on all fronts and figuring out how to sustain it. It is very satisfying that we have been able to decrease the daily cases significantly, despite the fact that we have been scaling up the testing. So, even though we are testing more, the cases have not dramatically increased. There was a time where we were worried that we will cross the 1-lakh mark in daily cases. I think to sustain it, we can do two things. Firstly, be really aggressive in having COVID appropriate behaviour among the general public. We need to start a mass movement for this, as the Prime Minister Narendra Modi also said. Secondly, we should focus on the hotspots, delve very strategic and strict strategy of testing, tracking, treating and containment in the areas where the number of cases are rising.
Dr Guleria says that we must remember that there’s a large part of our country are still vulnerable to the coronavirus and that we can’t afford to let our guard down.
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.