Corona cases uptick ; Rajasthan braces for new variant challenge

By Satish Sharma

Jaipur/New Delhi, Feb 22 :

Jaipur/New Delhi, Feb 22 : Health experts are sounding alert for possibility of another wave of COVID19 cases in the country against the backdrop of growing sense of triumph over the deadly virus among people.

The warning bells by the experts/Corona warriors are relevant in view of worrisome spikes in number of patients–many with new strain of the virus-, in 5 states- Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

Besides the above mentioned 5 states, the alarming bells are also due to set ringing in Rajasthan as authorities in Mumbai have traced trail of infected travellers in Udaipur and other places like Mahabaleshwar, Dubai and Maldives.

However, declining trend in the cases, that may or may not be sustainable, in many other states has evoked among masses a sense that the pandemic crisis is over which making them more bold and daring. This is bound to give further rise in defiance of mandatory norms of wearing masks and observing social distance.

Foreseeing difficult times ahead, renowned doctors- AIIMS Delhi, Director Randeep Guleria, Dr Tushar Shah and Shashank Joshi of Mumbai, besides many practising medical professionals, have warned people against giving any let up in precautions to mitigate possible threat.

They said that new variants could be more dangerous and rapidly transmissible. Even those who developed post infection immunity and/or taking vaccine are not safe from the new variants.

AIIMS director Dr Guleria said the new Indian strains of coronavirus found in Maharashtra could be highly transmissible and dangerous. 

He said that the new variant can even cause re-infections in people who have developed anti-bodies to the virus.

As many as 240 new strains of the virus have surfaced across India, which are behind the fresh surge of infections the state has been witnessing since last week, said Dr. Shashank Joshi, member of Maharashtra’s Covid Task Force.

Dr Tushar Shah, one of Mumbai’s top doctors, who has done a great work in COVID times has also given message for cautioning people against still looming pandemic threat.

He has said “This is Dr. Tushar Shah and today (the date of the message) is the 16th of February 2021.

It is my opinion that *we should start preparing for another large wave of Covid-19 infections*.

The number of cases in Mumbai are again creeping up. There is a real worry that some of these may be due to strains like the UK variant.

Past Covid infection or vaccination may or may not adequately protect against these variants.

In those who have had Covid, *immunity of past infection can start disappearing after a few months* making them prone to re-infection.

We may thus go back to Square One even before we get vaccinated”, Dr Shah opined.

He has also detailed steps and precautions necessary to avert or mitigate the threat of the new wave.

*Steps to be taken include* ::

1. *Take the vaccine* as soon as it is available to you.

2. *Avoid travel for holidaying.* We have had quite a few cases recently of people coming back from Udaipur, Dubai, Maldives, Mahabaleshwar etc.

3. *Avoid flights and other public transport except for work.* N95 or double-masking is to necessary in such transports.

4. *Wear N95 masks when outside* your home or your “bubble”. If you don’t have an N95 mask, wear two masks – a cloth mask above a surgical mask. Venus V4400 N95 masks are reasonably priced and readily available.

5. *Avoid marriage and similar functions* of distant relatives or non-intimate friends. If you do attend, don’t remove your mask at the function. This means that *you should not eat or drink at such functions*.

6. *If you do travel, isolate yourself for 5 days* after return  to protect your relatives.

7. Always carry *a hand sanitizer and an extra mask* with you.

8. *Wearing gloves* when you are out shopping helps reduce the chances of you touching your face.

9. For the next few months make *work from home* your Plan A and not a fullback option.

If, we don’t collectively help the authorities by taking  precautions, we can expect lockdowns soon, he cautioned..

“Let us not go back to Square One !!”, Dr Shah exhorted.

So, bone of contention is strict abidance of mandatory health protocols, more specifically, wearing proper mask and observing social distance.

As expert health warriors are sincerely counselling for abiding by the twin measures, the people in huge numbers have so far showed equally serious habit and tendency of violating both the norms.

The two simple measures could be more effective than vaccine in saving masses from falling to infection, however, experience so far is bad with many parts of the country, including Jaipur and Delhi,  witnessing rampant violations on these counts.

Besides this, holding big public events also making people bold and daring who boost their victory against the pandemic.

I have come across two (publicity) videos on the social media–one about annual desert fair in Rajasthan and other the next India-England cricket test in Ahmedabad)-, in which the brand ambassador (a Bollywood star) and a presenter heard boosting people’s win over Corona virus.

However, the need of the hour is to listen to the words of the experts and observe utmost precautions against the threat. There is no option to people but to wear mask and maintain social distancing.

The governance providers and authorities under them, are required to be more serious and diligent in ensuring strict adherence to mandatory health protocols and norms by the people.

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