Slow but sudden rise seen in fresh Covid-19 cases could be sign of an imminent third wave: Experts

October 16, 2021 0 By CH Unnikrishnan

India reported 15,981 fresh COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours. 166 Coronavirus-linked deaths were also recorded in the country, taking the total death count to 4,51,980 so far. Although the situation seems non-critical as of now, epidemiologists and virologists warn that a sudden rise in cases in the last one week due to reasons, including increased fesitivites and public crowds after the Covid-19 protocols and restrictions are being lifted in most of the states, including Maharashtra Delhi, Karnataka, Kerala, Goa and UP, could certainly be the sign of an imminent third wave.         

The health experts and officials responsible for state level pandemic disaster control warned that even a few crowded festive events and other potential mass gatherings like school reopening could trigger a chain reaction that could suddenly turn the country’s daily caseload to the range of 40,000-50,000. With a sudden rise in cases in Thane and Palghar districts in Maharashtra,  UP’s Gautam Buddh Nagar, certain pockets in Puducherry, among other places could potentially be the sign of a new infection spreading in the country.  

Thane has recorded 201 new cases in the last 24 hours and around 260 to 275 fresh daily cases in the last couple of days after a gap of almost a couple of months, has led the infection count mounting to 5,63,043  already. As the district witnessed four new Covid-linked fatalities in the last couple of days, the death toll in the district has also rosen to 11,456. The caseload in the neighbouring district –Palghar has also gone up to 1,37,427, while the death toll stood at 3,279. Uttar Pradesh’s Gautam Buddh Nagar has recorded its first COVID-19 fatality after a gap of four months, taking the district’s death toll rising to 467, according to official figures. 

Even as India is set to complete 100 crore doses of Covid-19 vaccines in the ongoing vaccination drive soon, a probable surge in the festivities and the state government plans to reopen educational institutions may add to the new crisis. The Central government and health experts have been warning about the third wave of SARS CoV-2 infection since July, though predicting a time frame has been difficult. However, the epidemiologists say that the signs will be more clear in the next 15-20 days.  Navaratri festivals and related large public movements sans Covid-19 appropriate behaviour,  people crowding temples and pilgrimage centres without masks and not following enough sanitisation and social distancing norms, may lead to even a large number of breakthrough infections.  

Schools in Kerala and Goa have been permitted to reopen shortly. Though there are circulars that suggest COVID-19 guidelines and standard operating procedures to be followed, considering the practical challenges and infrastructure limitations and other local conditions, none knows how successfully these measures are going to be implemented.