India has sunk into its second wave – and this time, with new variants, fatigue settings among the population, and many largely religious ceremonies, it is in danger of getting worse than before.
According to the Indian Ministry of Health, 103,558 new cases were reported in the country on Monday – the highest single-day figure since the onset of the epidemic.
But matters began to escalate again in early March. Now, after less than two months, daily affairs have jumped more than ten times.
“Major government setups lack private beds and beds,” said Deepak Baid, president of the Association of Medical Consultants in Mumbai. “Because beds are not available, in fact many patients still live at home, being admitted to non-Kovid hospitals when positive.”
Ramkaran Lakshminarayan of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy in New Delhi said, “Kovid cases in India are growing very fast at the moment, very different from a year ago.
One major difference is that when the first wave began to pick up at the end of last year, the country was emerging from just a month of lockdowns, with state borders closed, national travel closed, and business halting. The stringent lockdown and gradual, phased relaxation of sanctions slowed the transition “considerably”, said Laxminarayan – which “is no longer the case.”
There are some factors that can help reduce the impact around this time: the medical infrastructure is now better prepared, and employees have experience on their side, which can reduce mortality even if the case rate increases. . Work is also underway on the country’s immunization program, in which two vaccines have been approved for use. And in big cities like Delhi, Mumbai, those who have been hit before, those who have already been infected, may have some natural immunity.
But still, Lakshminarayan said, “It is not enough to stop the second wave of cases.”
Lockdown and curfew
Authorities rush to reapply the restrictions over the weekend in hard-working states. Officials said the western state of Maharashtra is the main concern, with India accounting for about 60% of all new cases in the last two weeks. And eight of the top ten worst-hit districts in the country are in Maharashtra, including its capital Mumbai.
The entire state will undergo new restrictions starting on Monday, including a daily evening curfew and strict weekend lockdown, the state’s cabinet minister Nawab Malik announced on Sunday. Public spaces such as parks, shopping malls, cinemas and religious centers are closed until further notice, and all restaurants can only serve lay-outs.
Several other states have also spread the virus in recent weeks, including Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Kerala and Punjab.
Modi directed a team of public health experts to be sent to Maharashtra, instructing hard-working states to take action so that “the collective gains of Kovid-19 management in the country in the last 15 months are not eroded”.
Randeep Guleria, director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences, said that there are many reasons to see such a dramatic spike in Maharashtra. In the country’s most populous cities, with about 18.3 million inhabitants, public places are often crowded.
It is also an industrial and transportation hub, home to international businesses and many migrant workers, which means there is frequent movement in and out of the state.
Maharashtra also has state-level tests and a good health system, which may mean that it is better to detect cases than other parts of the country. “You see this consistently, which will see more covariate cases with better health systems and in states with more urban populations,” he said.
“Winter success, vaccine rollout and a feeling of fatigue have resulted in a dangerous complacency across India,” said Oommen Kurian, senior fellow and head of health initiatives at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi. Officers became less vigilant, people moved out more, and the public lost out on social precautions and precautions such as wearing a mask.
“With all the vaccines and a discussion of India’s role as a major producer, many people think the virus is losing the fight, and letting its guard down,” Kurien said. “Unfortunately, it does not seem so.”
Major ceremonies and new editions
Experts warn that due to several large gatherings and gatherings in many states, cases may increase in the coming weeks.
The largest and most famous is the Kumbh Mela, one of the most important Hindu festivals. The largest religious pilgrimage place on earth, it is happening this year in the city of Haridwar in the state of Uttarakhand. Daily attendance is estimated to reach one million people on “regular” days, and up to five million visitors on “auspicious” days.
State and federal authorities have already taken measures to help control the risk – visitors should register online and provide a negative Kovid-19 test to participate in the holy bath in the Ganges River. Thousands of officers have been deployed for security and surveillance during the festival, urging the public to exercise caution and wear masks.
But experts and medical personnel worry that this may not be enough to prevent a spike in cases. After all, most people take off their masks when dipping in holy water, and photos show the crowd tightly packed together during evening prayers and other ceremonies.
State elections are also being held across the country for legislatures, local bodies and both houses of parliament. Many political celebrities have hit the campaign trail to hold rallies, often speaking to crowds of people packed together.
On Saturday, a day before the Kovid-19 meeting with federal officials, Prime Minister Modi participated in campaigning for his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in Tamulpur in the northeastern state of Assam. The videos posted on Modi’s social media accounts show hundreds, if not thousands, of clapping and cheering.
Lakshminarayana said that all large gatherings – not just religious or political – “are at risk of super-spreader incidents”, which pointed to mass weddings.