Second wave of COVID-19: When and how bad will it be?

Updated: Oct 07, 2020 2:55 PM

Experts have warned that the second wave of any pandemic has always been harsh and it goes up with the onset of autumn and winter but things could change as more research and testing is done on COVID-19.

Special attention should be paid to older populations by sealing off high-risk settings where we see people more susceptible to illness -- like nursing homes. (Photo source: IE)

By Dr Shuchin Bajaj

Second wave of COVID-19: With the states and countries reopening for business in order to boost the economy, it looks like the second wave of the Coronavirus pandemic is quite inevitable. If the second wave of coronavirus pandemic comes, it is expected to be more severe. Experts have warned that the second wave of any pandemic has always been harsh and it goes up with the onset of autumn and winter but things could change as more research and testing is done on COVID-19.

What happened during the Spanish epidemic?

If we see the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918, we saw the second wave of the pandemic which started coming in October-November, was much more widespread and deadlier than the first wave. Controlling the deadlier part should not be a challenge this time around, because doctors and hospitals by now have understood the disease (COVID-19) in a much better way.

If we compare the initial months of the lockdown, our healthcare landscape has gone through a metamorphosis since the pandemic first hit India earlier this year, when the hospitals were inundated with patients suffering a new, mysterious illness and healthcare professionals were clueless how to deal with it.

In September, the pandemic is once again going out of control in many parts of the country, but relatively less patients are dying from the virus and there is much more awareness about the once considered ‘mysterious illness’.

We know exactly what to do, and more importantly, what not to do, what interventions to take with time and when to take them to ensure best possible outcomes. But for sure, if the second wave starts, it will be much more widespread. And, if not controlled we probably may have to witness even a third and a fourth wave. But, the question is, how large will they be? If you are infected, do you become immune? If you do become immune, how long does it last? Such pertinent questions still don’t have clear answers.

However, there are various techniques and treatments coming into the scenario that are helping medical teams move forward. When it comes to infections, we already have tried and tested techniques, which we know work, including physical distancing, social distancing, mask wearing and mindful hygiene including hand washing.

Best precautions to avoid COVID-19 second wave

Be cautious about weather changing infection

Be cautious about the weather as it may change infection patterns. As we are moving from hot and humid to slightly cold weather conditions with the change in seasons, it will be pertinent to be cautious and we specially have to keep an eye on infections with people staying in closed environments. The chances of falling sick are lower when you are outside in an open environment then in closed spaces that include elevators and cramped up societies. If you are living in crowded spaces, then the odds of the virus spreading quickly multiply.

Continue paying attention to the older communities

Special attention should be paid to older populations by sealing off high-risk settings where we see people more susceptible to illness — like nursing homes.

Follow SMS (Sanitisation, Masks and Social-distancing)

Always remember SMS (Sanitisation, Masks and Social-distancing). It is only the Government which has unlocked the country; the COVID-19 virus hasn’t disappeared. We are still getting cases in hundreds and thousands across the world daily. India’s number of cases are increasing at a never before rate. We have already hit the record for the highest number of cases ever in a country in a single day, and the scenario where we see lakhs of new patients every day is not far.

Cities like Delhi, which apparently had the cases in control, are now witnessing a record number of cases every day. We all have to be careful. We should not think that the virus has gone and things are back to normal. It will be a long battle before we conquer this new virus. I would request everyone to keep all the social-distancing precautions and the self-health precautions, which we have been talking about in the last few months. Please don’t discard them for the sake of your family and neighbours.

We don’t know the long term complications and outcomes of the virus, so we cannot be blasé and think everyone has to get it one day, so might as well be done with it now. Be aware. Be safe. Be healthy.

The author is Founder & Director, Ujala Cygnus Healthcare Services. Views expressed are the author’s own.

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