New Delhi: As the Health Ministry has warned about possibilities of a third wave being very real since India’s population is yet to get herd immunity, various stakeholders are sounding alert that country must gear up for the hit in coming months of September-October. Addressing news briefing, NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr V.K. Paul has said that the next 100-125 days in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic will be critical, adding that people need to remain “cautious”. Paul said that the third wave possibilities were very real since India’s population was still very vulnerable as it has not reached the stage of herd immunity nor they want to acquire herd immunity through infections. Similarly, Samiran Panda, senior scientist at the Indian Council of Medical Research, has said that the third wave of coronavirus is likely to hit India at the end of August as it is inevitable. The country will also see nearly 1 lakh Covid-19 cases every single day with the onset of the third wave of the virus, Professor Panda added.
Voicing concerns over rising Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra and Kerala, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, too, said that coronavirus is not over, adding that pictures of post unlocking behaviour are worrisome. PM Modi cautioned that similar trends were seen in January-February before the second wave. That’s why, he insisted, that in states where cases are rising, “we have to take proactive measures to prevent the possibility of the third wave”.
Terming a third wave “inevitable” and “imminent”, the Indian Medical Association said that tourism, pilgrimage travel, religious fervor, all are needed but can wait for a few months. The top medical body added that opening up these rituals and enabling people without vaccination to go scot-free in these gatherings are potential super spreaders for the third wave. After having learnt hard lessons from the disastrous second Covid wave, the central government is leaving no stones unturned to ensure that such a deadly situation doesn’t arise again. The Union Health Ministry has already approved Rs 23,000 crore emergency Covid response package to strengthen medical infrastructure, which was completely overwhelmed during second wave with hospitals running out of beds, doctors, oxygen support and medicine supplies. To prepare the country on a war-footing scale, the central government has exhorted the states to fill the infrastructural gaps, especially in the rural areas. The states have been also asked to strengthen IT systems, control rooms and call centers so that citizens can get access to resources and data in a transparent manner during medical situation and patients are spared the hassle. Apart from this, oxygen plants are not built in every district to support 4 lakh oxygen beds and states have been told to expedite the completion of the plants. Special attention is also being given to protect children from being infected, among various apprehensions and custom-made medical facilities are being raised. Giving rise to fresh worries about the Covid-19 pandemic rearing its head again, the R-factor, which indicates the speed at which the infection is spreading in the country, has risen recently, leading to a sluggish pace in the decline of active cases, while Kerala and northeast states have emerged as regions of concern. It is noteworthy that Kerala on Saturday recorded 16,148 fresh Covid-19 cases, while the death toll rose to 15,269 with 114 more deaths. As per the Health Ministry’s data, there are 47 districts in 12 states and UTs where the positivity rate is over 10%. The states and UTs were Manipur, Kerala, Rajasthan, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Assam, Maharashtra and Puducherry.