As India recorded 43,846 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, sharpest daily high in nearly four months, the country stares at a likely second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. The alarming surge in Covid-19 cases has prompted strict measures in states like Punjab, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan held the laxity shown by people in following safety protocols as the reason behind the recent surge and urged them not to let their guard down against the infection, else the situation may turn “dangerous”.
“I want to appeal to people of the country that they should not let the COVID appropriate behaviour get weakened at any cost. Maintaining social distancing, wearing masks properly and washing hands with soap probably are the biggest tools to win the fight against COVID-19,” said Vardhan. The Union health minister further said the two vaccines, Covishield and Covaxin, which had been made available in the country are the second tool in this fight against contagion.
Earlier on Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said it was crucial to contain the “emerging second peak” of coronavirus with steps such as setting up of micro-containment zones and enforcement of restrictions amid a surge in cases across the country. Speaking at a meeting with chief ministers, PM Modi said: “If we don’t stop this pandemic right now, then there could be a nationwide outbreak. We have to immediately stop the emerging second peak and take big and decisive steps.”
A second wave of infections means a major upsurge in the cases after witnessing a substantial drop in the number from the first the time the pandemic hit. Maharashtra, which has been recording worrying levels of Covid-19 cases, is said to be facing the second wave of Covid-19, which according to epidemiological experts is “milder but more transmissible”. In Karnataka too, Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar said the second wave of coronavirus has begun as he sought people’s cooperation to contain the disease.
As the country fears a second wave of COVID-19, here are the Dos and Don’ts to avoid it:
- Maintain personal hygiene. Wash your hands regularly with soap for at least 20 seconds.
- When outside, carry anti-bacterial hand sanitiser and apply it regularly.
- Always wear a face mask, when venturing out of your homes. Always.
- Always cover your mouth with a tissue or handkerchief when coughing or sneezing. If you do not have a tissue, then cough or sneeze into your sleeve at the elbow.
- When outside, cough or sneeze inside the mask. Do not take off the mask while coughing or sneezing.
- Throw used tissues into closed bins immediately after use.
- Ensure the effective disposal of protective items, including PPE kits, face masks and gloves.
- Always maintain 6 feet distance with others in a public place.
- Work from home if possible.
- Stay at home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care.
- Avoid touching your face, particularly your eyes, nose, and mouth, as much as possible.
- Avoid crowded places and close contact with people as much as possible.
- Do not visit malls, gyms, restaurants and pubs where it is difficult to maintain social distancing.
- Avoid unnecessary travel across cities, states or the country.
- Do not spit in public.
The Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions (Department of Personnel and Training) has also issued guidelines for all the employees and the ministries/departments in India. Below are the precautionary measures that have to be taken:
- Install thermal scanners at the entry of Government buildings, as feasible. Mandatory placing of hand sanitizers at the entry of government buildings. Those found having flu-like symptoms may be advised to take proper treatment/quarantine etc.
- Discourage, to the maximum extent, entry of visitors in the office complex. Routine issue of visitors/temporary passes should be suspended with immediate effect. Only those visitors whom have proper permission of the officer, who they want to meet, should be allowed after being properly screened.
- Meetings, as far as feasible, should be done through video conferencing. Minimise or reschedule meetings involving large number of people unless necessary.
- Avoid non-essential official travel.
- Undertake essential correspondence on official email and avoid sending files and documents to other offices, to the extent possible.
- Facilitate delivery and receipt of dak at the entry point itself of the office building, as far as practicable.
- Close all gyms/recreation centres/creches located in government buildings.
- Ensure proper cleaning and frequent sanitization of the workplace, particularly of the frequently touched surfaces.
- Ensure regular supply of hand sanitisers, soap and running water in the washrooms.
- All officials may be advised to take care of their own health and look out for respiratory symptoms/fever and, if feeling unwell, should leave the workplace immediately after informing their reporting officers. They should observe home-quarantine as per the guidelines issued by MoH&FW, government.
- The leave sanctioning authorities are advised to sanction leave whenever any request is made for self-quarantine as a precautionary measure.
- Advise all employees who are at higher risk i.e. older employees, pregnant employees and employees who have underlying medical conditions, to take extra precautions. The Ministries/Departments may take care not to expose such employees to any front-line work requiring direct contact with the public.