India, which has been recording Covid-19 cases under 20,000 for weeks now, could see an uptick in the positive cases given the surge in many parts of the world, experts say.
India reported 14,348 new Covid-19 cases and 805 deaths in the last 24 hours, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Friday.
While the country’s active caseload accounts for less than 1 per cent of the total cases, with the international travel rules easing for the countries where cases are rising, and more and more people planning a vacation during the November-December period, the risk of a third wave is higher than ever.
The global surge has put the countries, even with minimal case spikes, on a high alert.
Hundreds of flights in and out of Beijing were cancelled on Friday as travel restrictions were tightened across China to address outbreaks of Covid as the capital gears up to host the Winter Olympics. The area recorded 48 cases.
In South West England, coronavirus cases also showed a surge after 43,000 people, who had initially tested negative for the virus, turned out to be positive on further testing.
The World Health Organization (WHO) officials in a briefing a day ago revealed that the global numbers of Covid-19 cases and deaths were increasing for the first time in two months as the virus spreads across Europe.
According to the WHO’s recently updated data, nearly 3 million new Covid cases were reported worldwide for the week that ended on Sunday, an increase of 4% from the previous seven days.
In India, while cases seem under control, the Covid-appropriate behaviour is lacking on a pre-pandemic scale. This, coupled with the surge in Europe, should put India on its guard.
“It’s not a matter of if, but rather a question of when. No part of the world, regardless of the percentage of vaccination coverage, is free from the pandemic. We are seeing massive surges happening now in highly vaccinated nations. It is a fact that this pandemic comes in waves separated by several months, with relatively low caseloads in between,” said Dr Rajeev Jayadevan, former president of the Indian Medical Association (IMA).
He said, “As far as India is concerned when the third wave comes, we will be in a better position than we were during the second wave. This is because a large number of people who were earlier unarmed against the virus, have now come under the umbrella of immunity due to vaccination and also from high rates of natural infection.”
He added, “We know now that although vaccination will not give full immunity from picking up an infection, it provides a high degree of protection from severe disease. Compared to the previous wave, the death rates will reduce at least threefold – especially among fully vaccinated segments. Deaths will be exclusively among adults, primarily among older adults.”
Dr Jayadevan said child mortality in India from Covid-19 is less than 0.001%, according to the published figures from Kerala.
“It is therefore important to focus on those older adults in our country who are yet to receive a single dose of vaccine and vaccinate them as quickly as possible. While we focus on vaccination, it is extremely important that we do not disregard the other three pillars of pandemic protection, that is wearing masks, improving room ventilation and avoiding indoor gatherings,” he said.
As for the global surge, Dr Jayadevan said, “Unfortunately, all over the world, there is a misconception that if you are vaccinated, you are completely immune to the virus,” adding, “What they need to understand is that protection from COVID-19 is like a chair with four legs — vaccines, mask, indoor ventilation and reduced indoor gatherings. Even if one is not followed, the chair would break.”