COVID-19 task force chief points to crowds, warns new surge
Dr. VK Paul, the chief of India's COVID-19 task force, has once again warned that the second wave of the pandemic is not over yet and infections can rise if protocols are ignored. He said the slow rate of decline in daily cases is a dangerous trend and reminds us that we must not lower our guard. Here are more details on this.
India needs to achieve 'baseline' of 10,000 daily cases
"It is right that the graph (of decline in the number of cases) has slowed down," Dr. Paul said. "If it is around 35,000-37,000 cases per day, this is almost one-third the number of cases we saw during the first wave peak (around 1,00,000 cases)." He said India needs to maintain 10,000 daily cases for three straight weeks to bring the situation under control.
Average weekly cases falling at a slow rate
According to the data from the Union Health Ministry, average daily cases were 46,258 between June 26 and July 2. That number fell slightly to 42,100 the following week, the data showed. However, the situation is different across states. In fact, 80% of the new cases are being reported from 90 districts in the country. Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu have most of these districts.
Dr. Paul flagged violations at tourist spots
Dr. Paul also flagged the blatant violation of COVID-19 protocols in several parts of the country, especially hill stations. In recent days, tourists have flooded popular hill towns like Manali and Mussoorie. Viral pictures showed many of them ignored social distancing and mask guidelines. "If this type of mingling continues to take place, and if social distancing norms are violated, the virus can spread."
'All the gains can be snatched away from us'
"With a lot of effort and difficulty, we have reached a situation where cases are on the decline. The situation is bad only in a few districts. But all this can be snatched away from us...This is something we cannot afford," Dr. Paul said.
Manali, Mussorie administrations impose fresh rules
In view of the worrying situation, the administration in Manali has imposed a fine of Rs. 5,000 or eight days' jail for tourists who fail to wear face masks. Meanwhile, in Mussorie, only 50 tourists will be allowed at the famous Kempty Falls at a time, with a maximum permissible time limit of 30 minutes.
India's coronavirus situation
India had faced the world's worst coronavirus outbreak earlier this year, reporting lakhs of cases and thousands of deaths daily. The situation has since improved but the rate of decline in infections remains slow. In the past 24 hours, the country reported 42,766 new cases and 1,206 deaths. However, experts have warned that a third wave could hit India as early as next month.
How is India's vaccination drive going?
Since beginning its coronavirus vaccination drive in January, India has administered more than 37 crore doses. Even though 22% of Indians have received at least one vaccine shot, just above 5% have been fully inoculated as yet. The Indian government aims to vaccinate all adults by the end of this year. Four vaccines are currently approved in India and more approvals are expected soon.