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Cases Declining Very Slowly, This is a Warning For 3rd Wave. Next 3-4 Months Critical: Govt

People shop at a crowded wholesale vegetable market in the old quarters of Delhi. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

People shop at a crowded wholesale vegetable market in the old quarters of Delhi. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

India witnessed a devastating second wave of the pandemic in April and May this year, which saw record infections and deaths.

The decline in cases in the country is slow; a warning amid the impending third wave of the pandemic, the government said on Friday, adding that the next three to four months were ‘critical’ for the fight against Covid-19.

In a Health Ministry briefing on Friday, Joint Secretary (Health) Lav Agarwal said the arrival of the third wave of Covid-19 would depend on people’s behaviour and the number of vaccinations administered in the country.

India witnessed a devastating second wave of the pandemic in April and May this year, which saw record infections and deaths, as people struggled for healthcare facilities and medical oxygen. Experts forewarn that another wave of Covid-19 may hit the country in August or October, this time affecting children more.

The second wave had prompted rigourous lockdowns in various states. However, as cases come down and restrictions are relaxed, a drop in adherence to Covid-appropriate protocol is also being witnessed. According to Agarwal, analysis shows a projected decline in the use of face masks as activities resume. “We should incorporate the use of face masks in our lives as a new normal," he said.

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Mask usage surged from March-April and peaked in May, during the peak of the second wave, but then began to fall in June and July, according to a graph depicting the decline in mask usage. According to projections, mask use will continue to drop in August and September, the government said.

Many people are also thronging hill stations in huge numbers after the relaxations. The Health Ministry, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have reiterated warnings in recent days against such behaviour. “Forty-seven districts in India are reporting more than 10% positivity for the week ending July 15. The pandemic is far from over, a surge in cases is being noted globally. India is still amid a second wave," said Agarwal.

NITI Aayog Member Dr VK Paul said: “our decline in cases has slowed down, it’s a warning signal. The next 100 to 125 days are critical for the fight against Covid-19 in India."

Citing an ICMR study conducted in Tamil Nadu, the official added that one dose of the vaccine was able to reduce mortality rate by 82% in high-risk police personnel. “Two doses of vaccine were successful in preventing 95% of deaths due to Covid-19 during the second wave," he said.

Paul said the Prime Minister had asked the government to ensure that a third wave of Covid-19 did not arrive in the country.

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first published:July 16, 2021, 17:03 IST