New Delhi: Head of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Dr Samiran Panda said that the states which did not face an intense second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic are now showing the increasing trend of COVID-19 cases, indicating the early signs of the third wave. Sources form the Health Ministry said that the majority of the current COVID-19 cases are from Kerala, stressing on the need to follow a strategic plan in the state.
As per the Health Ministry data, India recorded 41,965 fresh Covid cases in the last 24 hours as of September 1, 35.6 per cent higher than yesterday (30,941) and reported 460 Covid deaths against yesterday’s (August 31) 350 casualties. In terms of vaccination, according to the health ministry, the country has vaccinated over 65 crore people and the aim of the government is to inoculate all of the adult population with at least one dose of vaccine as soon as possible.
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To understand the current scenario, NDTV speaks with experts. Talking about the daily rise in cases in Kerala and if the COVID cases there are plateauing, Dr Padmanabha Shendy, Rheumatologist and Immunologist said,
If we look at week-on-week data, Kerala numbers are rising, currently what we are seeing is highest in the last four months. Currently, Kerala is at a stage where one person is spreading the disease to minimum five people. The state has been reporting 30,000 cases a day. So, maybe it will be a tough week ahead for Kerala. However, we should look at the bright side that the state is one which has vaccinated maximum number of people. According to the data, the state has vaccinated 25% of its people with double jab and 71% with single dose. So, even if the cases are increasing, number of sick people are decreasing. There are lesser number of people who are requiring hospital beds or ICU. But the problem is that if the cases continue to rise like this, Kerala healthcare system might be strained.
Highlighting that the COVID-19 cases in the state will increase for sure in the near future, Dr Shendy added,
Last time, we had a four time increase in coronavirus cases, but this time it can be a double fold increase. The state government is also considering Sero-Survey, which I think is A welcomE move because some districts in the state may have lesser sero-prevelance and maybe after the results, we can improve strategies or ramp up the vaccination. We are expecting some 50 to 71 per cent of people who will have some kind of COVID immunity in them this time around.
In Kerala, the COVID-19 case graph, showed a dramatic rise in active transmission between August 21-28, with 30,000-32,000 new cases being reported on a daily basis.
On the other hand, talking about Delhi situation, the city, which has reported zero COVID deaths for the fourth consecutive day in a row and 31 new cases as of August 29. During a media briefing, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said,
The COVID-19 situation is under control in Delhi. The positivity rate in the national capital is 0.4 per cent. The government has decided to establish more than 6,800 ICU beds in seven hospitals within six months.
Speaking about the situation there, how cautious people should be and the opening of schools – if it is right or wrong, Dr SK Sarin, Director Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences added,
Delhi Disaster Management Authority HAS decided to open up schools and universities in a planned manner – though it is a welcomE move, but the challenge in front of all of us is that how do we protect children from bringing the infections home or catching it in the schools. We should follow COVID appropriate protocols for sure but also make sure that the staff, teachers and everyone in schools or universities are fully vaccinated. The second fear is that Delhi still had not vaccinated 100 per cent of its population with the first dose of vaccine. The third fear is that people who had got their shot early this year say in January and March, their immunity levels might have started to come down, so they need to be extra cautious.
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He further said that everywhere now there is a strain of Delta variant. He said,
It is not the Wuhan actual virus, which we are fighting. We are battling with the mutated strain, which makes everyone vulnerable. My advice will be, people who are not fully vaccinated or had their doses earlier in the year, should be extra careful. When stepping out they should ensure that they are wearing double mask and also maintaining social distancing. After the second dose, we should wait for at least four weeks for the immunity to kick in, don’t think that today I am fully vaccinated and from tomorrow I can do whatever I feel like. Festivals are coming, we need to be cautious and not let our guard down. We need to celebrate at home just like last time. We might have a new variant any day as the virus is still mutating.
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.