Third wave of COVID-19 inevitable, need to be prepared: Government
The third wave of COVID-19 is "inevitable," the top scientific adviser to the government said in a statement on Wednesday. Speaking at the Union Health Ministry's briefing on Wednesday, Principal Scientific Advisor to the Centre Dr. K Vijay Raghavan said that India should be prepared for future waves of the outbreak. India is now reporting more cases than any other country in the world.
Dr. Raghavan said, "Phase three is inevitable given the higher levels of circulating virus, but it is not clear on what time-scale this phase three will occur. We should be prepared for new waves." The new variants of the virus don't have properties of new kinds of transmission, but they infect humans in a manner that makes them more transmissible, he added.
Officials said a long wave of COVID-19 of such "ferocity" that the country is currently facing "was not predicted." India reported 3.82 lakh new COVID-19 cases till Wednesday morning, along with a record number of 3,780 deaths in a single day. The tally has risen to 2.06 crore cases with 2,26,188 deaths. In the past 3.5 months alone, India has added 1 crore cases.
Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Rajasthan, and Bihar are showing an increasing trend in daily infections. Twenty-four states/union territories are reporting a COVID-19 test positivity rate of more than 15%. There are some areas of concern, such as Bengaluru in Karnataka reporting around 1.49 lakh cases over the past week. Deaths have increased in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, and Haryana.
Starting May 1, when the government allowed vaccinations for the age group 18-44 years, 6.71 lakh people have received their first doses in the age group. Dr. Raghavan warned that the COVID-19 vaccines will need to be "updated" to deal with the new strains.
When asked if a nationwide lockdown is required, NITI Aayog member and chief of the national expert group on vaccines, Dr. VK Paul, said, "If anything more is required those options are always being discussed. There's already a guideline to states to impose restrictions to suppress chain of transmission." Experts—including the Director of AIIMS, Delhi, Dr. Randeep Guleria—have backed calls for a nationwide lockdown.
Further, Dr. Paul said, "The response to the changing virus remains the same. We need to follow the COVID-appropriate behavior such as mask, distancing, hygiene, no unnecessary meetings, and staying at home." He also clarified that the disease is not spreading through animals.
Issuing a clarification on the foreign aid that India has been receiving, Union Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said the supplies are being monitored by a group of senior officials. "Our technical wing has made guidelines to see that what hospital would the equipment be suitable for. The equipment is being sent to hospitals where an immediate need has been felt," he said.