Covid-19 third wave: As states begin unlocking, ‘next three months crucial for India’, says AIIMS chief

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June 20, 2021 12:54 PM

COVID-19 in India: He added that the fact that cases were surging in the UK was a red flag.

A very strong system of surveillance is required in the country to be able to identify the hotspots.

Coronavirus unlock in India: As the country deals with a receding second wave of coronavirus, many cities and states across India are opening up despite the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 still being present in the community. Now, health experts as well as officials of the Union Health Ministry are batting for ensuring that along with the unlocking of the country, an aggressive vaccination drive continues. They have also warned that COVID-19 appropriate behaviour is needed, adding that if these measures are not followed, India could witness a third wave of coronavirus in about three to four months, according to a report in The Indian Express.

The report cited AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria as saying that the next few months are very crucial for the country. He added that the fact that cases were surging in the UK was a red flag. Apart from that, last month, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) was told by Directorate General of Health Services Additional DDG Dr P Ravindran that he expected Delhi to be hit by a third wave of coronavirus in February or March next year. The meeting was attended by Dr Guleria, Delhi LG Anil Baijal, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, ICMR DG Balram Bhargava and NITI Aayog member Dr VK Paul.

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During the meeting, Dr Paul, Dr Guleria and Prof Bhargava, all called for a very cautious approach while reopening the cities and states, adding that lifting of lockdown restrictions would cause the number of cases to increase.

Dr Guleria later said that the fact that the UK was witnessing a rise in cases due to the Delta variant despite a long lockdown is a cause for concern. The cause for worry was the fact that India also has the Delta variant. On top of that, the cases are rising despite a large portion of their population having been vaccinated. In India, the variant is present and the vaccination coverage is much less than that in the UK.

Talking about the timeline of the third wave, he said that it would depend on the adherence to COVID-appropriate behaviour as well as the strain’s transmissibility. In normal circumstances, he added, the next wave usually takes about five to six months, but if people do not follow coronavirus norms and the strain is highly transmissible, the wave could also come as soon as three to four months. Dr Guleria also expressed his concern over the fact that despite the high number of deaths and cases that India witnessed in the second wave, people have gone back to crowding upon unlocking of states, all the while not even wearing masks.

This is why the next three months are crucial for India, he said.

A very strong system of surveillance is required in the country to be able to identify the hotspots and the places where admissions to hospitals due to COVID-19 are high or are increasing so that appropriate strategies can be formed. If this is not looked into, then opening up of travel would lead to a spread of infection, he opined.

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