- India has so far recorded over 1.13 crore COVID cases and 1.58 lakh deaths
- Be aggressive in containing the cases now than regret later: Dr Guleria
- There is a need to build strategy to increase vaccination: Dr Guleria
New Delhi: According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), the country recorded its highest single-day spike this year on Monday (March 15), with over 26,000 (26,291) new COVID-19 cases reported in the last 24 hours. Since the past one month, the active coronavirus caseload in the country, which currently stands at 2.19 lakh, has been fluctuating and Maharashtra has remained the worst affected and accounting for more than half of the new infections. The cases have been rising in other states as well like Kerala, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh. The Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said during a press conference that poor adherence to COVID-19 appropriate behaviour like wearing of masks and maintaining physical distancing seems to be driving a fresh surge in several areas. This rise in the number of cases after some months of decline is worrying and could be the beginning of the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic in the country, said Dr. Randeep Guleria, Director of All India Institute of Medical Science, Delhi.
While talking to NDTV, Dr. Guleria highlighted that the as the cases are on a rise, what the country can do together is work on keeping the numbers as low and the second wave as small as possible. He said,
The data from the last few days do suggest that we are seeing another wave coming and we need to be very aggressive and very careful so that the new wave does not become as big as in the past. We must learn the lessons from the past and implement it so that we can save lives.
On the severity of the new cases and fatality rate, Dr. Guleria said that as of now the death rate is low which is a positive thing but as the cases will increase and more individuals will get infected, then there will an increased risk of deaths. Dr. Guleria asserted,
With increasing cases, we will have larger number of people with co-morbidities (underlying conditions like diabetes, obesity, kidney disorder, heart ailments) or are elderlies who may develop sever disease which may lead to a higher mortality. This is what we also saw in the United Kingdom when there was a new strain. Initially, it was observed that only the number of cases was rising but mortality was low. However, later on, it also started contributing to mortality. And that is why we need to be very careful right now rather than regret days or weeks later.
With A Massive Vaccination Drive Underway, Why Are The Cases Still Rising?
Dr. Guleria asserted that even though the number of doses administered per day is large, but when compared to the size of the population it is still very low. He said,
We have to aggressively raise our vaccination strategy by getting more and more people to take the shot of vaccine against COVID-19. Not all our vaccination sites are full. We still need to reach out to the people in the priority group. We need to address any reluctance or hesitation that people might be facing in coming to the vaccination sites to get themselves inoculated. Or maybe we need to go to those people who are unable to come out rather than wait for them to come to the site.
According to the MoHFW, over 2.8 crore doses have been administered till now in the country and the target is to vaccinate about 30 crore people in the next few months.
Dr Guleria has recommended ramping up vaccination especially in the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, Assam and Union Territory of Puducherry that are gearing up for the upcoming elections.
He stressed that people are facing pandemic fatigue and are avoiding following preventive measures, but this will only worsen the situation further. To the people experiencing the pandemic fatigue, Dr Guleria said while signing off,
You may feel that it is your right to choose whether to wear a mask but please you must understand that it is your duty to follow all preventive measures because you could be spreading the virus to others. In a closed and crowded spaces like in a flight or other areas, wearing a mask will not only protect you but will protect your near and dear ones and all the people you will be interacting with.
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.