After three years of the deadly pandemic, India is currently facing a fresh health crisis. The country’s Covid cases have shot up to 32,814 till April 9. According to the Union Health Ministry, the daily positivity rate was 3.39 per cent and the weekly positivity rate stood at 3.54 per cent. The active cases were at 0.07 per cent and the recovery rate currently at 98.74 per cent. Alarmed by the resurgence of Covid-19, Union Health Minister Dr Mansukh Mandaviya on April 7 chaired a meeting of health ministers of all states and Union Territories and advised them to keep all preparedness for Covid management. During the virtual meeting, Mandaviya said that the Centre and states need to continue working in collaborative spirit as was done during the previous surges for Covid-19 prevention and management.
Mandaviya urged the State Health Ministers to conduct mock drills of all hospital infrastructure on April 10 and 11, and review the health preparedness with district administrations and health officials on April 8 and 9. He also urged the states to identify emerging hotspots by monitoring trends of ILI/SARI cases and sending sufficient samples for testing of Covid-19 and Influenza; and ramping up whole genome sequencing of positive samples. It was observed that 23 states/UTs had average tests per million below the national average. Mandaviya said that irrespective of the new variants, the five-fold strategy of “Test-Track-Treat-Vaccinate & Adherence to Covid Appropriate Behaviour” continues to remain the tested strategy.
According to leading health experts, the sudden surge could be due to several factors, including seasonal reasons (one typically sees a spike in upper respiratory infections during spring in India), deterioration in adherence to Covid-19 protocols, which also reduced transmission of other virus infections and waning immunity due to a long time having elapsed since vaccination. A periodic increase in cases of Covid-19 is to be expected, and it may be premature to call it a wave. WHO had already declared that new variants of Covid will behave like seasonal flu and this new variant Omicron XBB 1.16 might be a reason for concern. But as no hospitalisation surge is associated so there’s not much to worry about, but we should follow the Covid appropriate behaviour for safety.
As the virus continues to circulate and evolve, we will continue to see waves of infections. While these waves are not likely to be as large as before as we have population-level immunity that has increased around the world from vaccination and prior infection, we should, by no means, downplay the threat from Covid-19 and become complacent. We must reduce risk to ourselves and to others from Covid-19. We can contain the impact of this with strong disease surveillance, high vaccine coverage, and making our health systems more resilient. We also need to strengthen our capacity to track the virus and urgently address any gaps in the health systems. Masks, hand hygiene, avoiding close spaces with large gatherings are the basic practices one should follow to prevent the infection.
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