OpinionScience/MedicalSocial

Coronavirus 3rd wave fears:  Enforce Covid-19 discipline with full force

Devsagar Singh

It is heartening to note that half of India’s adults have got at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine. The target of vaccinating all adults by December end, however, looks unachievable at the present rate of vaccination. Even so, the Government must make all-out efforts to vaccinate maximum number of people in order to evade a possible third wave while enforcing Covid-appropriate behavior across the country.

By now, it is clear that wearing mask, maintaining social distancing and regular hand sanitizing has been effective in checking the spread of the disease. Consider the United States where Covid  cases are rising again apparently because people there are lax in  following Covid-appropriate behavior. The US administration itself is to blame for this because it gave up enforcing the discipline. Indeed, it officially relaxed the norms. India, on the other hand,  continued to harp on the Covid discipline which showed up in terms of reduced number of cases.

Today, apart from Kerala and pockets of North Eastern states, India is witnessing continual fall in the number of cases. Many states  have begun to open schools closed for more than 18 months.  This has given false sense of security among people. Most parts of rural India have almost given up masks. Daily and weekly markets  have been revived. Life is almost normal. The state governments have as good as forgotten their responsibilities on Covid, it would appear. This is where we seem to be making a mistake. A recent Home Ministry report has reportedly warned of a possible third in October. This should make local authorities sit up and be active again on the Covid front. The Centre must direct the state governments to  up their anti-Covid efforts in right earnest. This is, unfortunately, not happening.

Festive season will begin soon and with this crowding of public places like markets and temples around the country. Apart from increasing the vaccination, what is needed is to strictly enforce the Covid discipline , at least till the festive season.

 An equally urgent issue is vaccination of  school children. The emergency use authorization and procurement of  vaccine for children must be made top priority. Some studies have predicted that the third wave may particularly affect children. This has alarmed parents, naturally. They are hesitant about sending  the children to schools unless they are vaccinated.

A yet another imponderable  is vaccine hesitancy among sections of people, largely in remote villages. Reports suggest it has come down  recently, thanks to efforts by local leaders and village pradhans.  Efforts must be intensified again with the help of village elders and community leaders to get them vaccinated.

Meanwhile, it is time to  review and strengthen  Covid care centres by replenishing medicines and equipment in hospitals and healthcare  facilities. Acute shortage of oxygen supply and ICU beds in hospitals created havoc in the second wave resulting in death of a large number of patients. Let us hope the Government has learnt a lesson and will not allow it to repeat.

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