COVID-19: Don’t let the guard down, caution experts

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COVID-19: Don’t let the guard down, caution expertsIf caution is thrown to the wind, we could well be laying out an invitation for a second wave, which the country can ill afford. (PTI Photo/File) If there are reasons for India to take comfort in the declining new cases of the COVID-19 virus, there are equal reasons, if not more, for it to practice greater caution and to not let the guard down, caution experts.

Other than masks and physical distancing, vaccines are the only hope and it is erroneous to assume that one can get back to a pre-pandemic routine because a large part of India has still not been exposed to the virus. Therefore, if caution is thrown to the wind, we could well be laying out an invitation for a second wave, which the country can ill afford.

Also Read | COVID-19 vaccine: Case now to ramp up supplies at lower prices, says expert

Here is what is working for India: At a time when the rich western nations are struggling with a rising virus caseload, India has seen a sharp decline in new cases. These are down from almost 90,000 new cases a day a few months ago to just about 12,000 odd new infections reported each day currently.

Experts caution that just because the number of new cases is down, it does not mean that the virus has disappeared. In fact, referring to the ‘ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) Third National Sero Survey’ which is to check the prevalence of the virus in the population, the finding was that it was 21.4 percent. This means only 21.4 percent of the Indian population has so far has been exposed to the virus and others have not and therefore run a risk of getting infected and therefore all need to take precautions. Though in some of the big cities of India, like Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, and others the number of people already exposed to the virus is much higher than 21.4 percent and is at over 40 percent, and in the case of Delhi at over 50 percent. “The Sero survey shows that today one in every five Indian is exposed to the virus (though much larger in some of the big cities) therefore we need to be vigilant and cannot afford to let the guard down,” says Dr Manoj Murhekar, a highly regarded medical expert and the director at the ICMR’s National Institute of Epidemiology in Chennai. He says, “We just cannot afford to be complacent and cannot go back to our pre-pandemic routine because what can happen is that since a large population is still not exposed to the virus and therefore susceptible, there could be a risk of inviting another wave. Getting the vaccine, he feels is really important as it is the only protection available other than wearing masks and maintaining physical distancing.

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