INDIA: The entire world is once again grappling with an exponential spike in COVID-19 cases, and so is the situation in India. Health experts and government officials are putting the onus for the current spike on a casual approach and negligence by citizens who are not following face masks and social distancing norms. After the vaccination too, people have started taking the virus lightly. The misconception that once you are vaccinated, or once people near you are vaccinated – the chance of getting infected is almost zero – is also been mentioned as a reason for people becoming negligent.
In India, there is talk of the second round of fresh lockdowns, and experts and health authorities have issued warnings for people to not take COVID-19 lightly and keep following government guidelines, including wearing face masks. Thousands of people have already been penalised for negligence in wearing masks.
Dr Sanjay Oak, who heads the coronavirus task force comprising senior specialist doctors in Maharashtra, said the latest spike cannot be termed a second wave. “People are not following COVID-appropriate behaviour. They need to restrain themselves,” he said.
Union Health Ministry, India reported 93,249 new COVID-19 cases, taking the tally of total number of COVID-19 cases to 1,24,85,509. 513 coronavirus-related deaths were reported in the last 24 hours making the death toll in India 1,64,623, and there are 6,91,597 active cases in the nation as of now.
A good news was that there has been a steady rise in vaccinations across the nation, and according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, a total of 7,59,79,651 people have been vaccinated across the country till now.
Union Cabinet Secretary, Shri Rajiv Gauba recently held a high-level review meeting with Chief Secretaries, DG Police, and Health Secretaries of all States/Union Territories.
11 States/UTs have been reporting a very high rise in daily cases and daily mortality because of COVID-19 in the last two weeks. These 11 States/UTs were categorised as “States of grave concern”, and were advised to take up immediate and effective measures to ensure containment of Active Cases and Daily Deaths through Enhanced Testing, Strict Containment, Prompt Contact Tracing & Enforcement of COVID Appropriate Behaviour, and adherence of the standard Clinical Management Protocol shared earlier with all States and UTs.
States including Maharashtra, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, and Madhya Pradesh have contributed close to 90% of COVID cases (as of 31st March) and 90.5% of deaths (as of 31st March) in the last 14 days, and have crossed/or close to crossing their early reported peaks during last year. It was pointed out the situation was particularly worrying in Maharashtra. They were advised to take up immediate and high effective measures to ensure containment of Active Cases and Daily Deaths through adherence to the standard Clinical Management Protocol shared earlier with all States and UTs.
During the meeting, emphasis was laid on Vaccination, one of the 5 tools to stay safe. Enhanced Testing, Strict Containment, Prompt Contact Tracing & Enforcement of COVID Appropriate Behaviour are the remaining steps to contain the Surge.
Taking note of the present situation due to the continuous deterioration of the COVID scenario over the fortnight due to negligence, the Cabinet Secretary pointed out that the current COVID case growth rate of 6.8% in March 2021 has surpassed the previous record of 5.5% (June 2020). The country also reported a 5.5% growth rate in daily COVID deaths in this period. While the country was reporting about 97,000 daily new COVID cases at the peak of the pandemic in September 2020, the country has now reached the critical figure of 94,000 daily new cases of COVID.
Another worrisome aspect pointed out negligence in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities along with peri-urban areas, as these areas have recorded the recent high rises in COVID cases; the spread of infection from these areas to the rural areas with weak health infrastructure would overwhelm the local administration was also highlighted.