Saturday, June 22, 2024

Stay safe

After passing another year of anxiety, loss, and deaths, we are again staring at another wave of COVID-19, if not already there. Our country is again stormed by another severe wave of coronavirus – which is likely to bring regular activities to another halt. Several states have already announced restrictions like night curfew as Covid cases continue to rise, and more stringent restrictions are likely to follow if the spike continues. As on January 7, India reported 1,17,100 fresh COVID-19 cases, over 28% higher than the previous day’s cases. A total of 3,007 cases of Omicron variant of coronavirus have also been detected across 23 states and Union Territories so far, according to the Union health ministry’s data. Early studies suggest that the Omicron variant of SARS CoV-2 virus first detected in South Africa in the last week of November 2021 is milder than Delta variant, which was first detected in India during the summers of 2021. Nevertheless, there should not be any complacency about Omicron variant since its transmission rate is higher and data about its nature is not fully available. Today we are facing a horrible situation, which if not dealt with strictly can trigger more trouble in the coming weeks. At present the infection is spreading at a faster rate in every age group, and the same is the case of mortality. In the first year of the pandemic we were groping in dark, little did even the scientific community know about the virus. At the level of managing the challenge in the healthcare sector those at the helm were caught unawares, and there was hardly any infrastructure in place. Similarly, the administration was facing such a situation first time. So it was a sort of firefighting without an idea of the nature of the conflagration. During the second wave last year, though the crisis was far bigger, but there was some degree of clarity on what we were facing. This knowledge about the challenge we were facing made us somehow able to manage the pandemic more effectively, although we lost more people to COVID-19 in 2021 than in 2020. However, what we learnt was that there are just two ways of wrestling this monster and tossing it to the floor: One, vaccination and two, following standard guidelines. So right now as we are facing the threat of another wave, all our focus should be on these two things. Here the first one is for the government to speed up by making vaccine available as well as creating awareness about the effectiveness of Covid vaccines. But it is not going to happen in a jiffy. It will take some time. What can significantly contribute to breaking the chain is that people voluntarily decide to stay indoors even if there is no lockdown in place, although many states have now announced night curfews. At a time when cases are mounting and deaths are on the rise across the country, it is a moral responsibility on all of us to stay indoors, and not to come out unless it is necessary. We must remember that when we needlessly move out we not only risk ourselves, but our family and also the neighbourhood. That way it becomes a criminal act. The need of the hour is to get united and fight; a mask, small distance, cleaning of hands, etc. – are some micro efforts from an individual that may work as a miracle in this hour of crisis. If we don’t stop the crisis now by following all guidelines, it may lead to some uncontrollable situation, where one could only regret. Everyone can play a role to mitigate the effect of this pandemic. Pray and, follow the necessary precautions, so that it may not escalate. Here let us not forget the horrific images that we saw during the 2nd wave all over the world, as we stare towards an increased risk of a new wave, if not already there. In fact to prevent emergence of new variants and of course, a new wave, public health measures hold the key, like vaccination, physical distancing, wear mask and avoid crowds.