Rajat Sharma

Second wave of Covid: More lethal and moves faster

The Centre has identified 11 states as “states of grave concern”, where the numbers of new cases and fatalities are rising, but there is no commensurate increase in enforcement of containment measures. The Cabinet Secretary, on Friday, directed all the states to galvanize their state administrations and use all resources at their disposal to stop the spread of the pandemic.

AKB The second wave of Covid pandemic is presently sweeping across India at a deadlier and faster pace. On Friday, the number of fresh Covid cases almost touched 90,000, with total number of 89,129 new cases reported. Only a day before, the number of fresh Covid cases was at 81,466.

The worst affected state is Maharashtra, which reported 47,827 new cases. Maharashtra accounted for 202 deaths out of a total of 714 Covid related deaths recorded across India on Friday. The rise is three times faster compared to the corresponding increase during the first wave of the pandemic. The highest single-day spike was recorded on September 17 last year at 98,795, and the current wave is fast moving towards that number.
The pandemic is spreading in Karnataka (4,991 cases on Friday), Delhi (3,594), Tamil Nadu (3,290), Punjab (2,903), Gujarat (2,640), and Madhya Pradesh (2,777). More than 80 per cent of the new cases are from these states.
On Friday, health experts made it clear that the second wave of the pandemic is more dangerous compared to the earlier one. They predicted that the single-day spike may jump to one lakh and more in the coming days, and there is a strong need for strictly enforcing Covid guidelines.
The warning is clear: if we in India fail to take precautions now, we may face the same challenges that the US and Brazil have faced. Both these countries are presently on top of the World Covid chart. In September last year, when the pandemic was at its peak in India, the daily average rise in cases was nearly 97,000. The positivity and fatality rates are also rising and these are matters of utmost concern to all of us.

The Centre has identified 11 states as “states of grave concern”, where the numbers of new cases and fatalities are rising, but there is no commensurate increase in enforcement of containment measures. The Cabinet Secretary, on Friday, directed all the states to galvanize their state administrations and use all resources at their disposal to stop the spread of the pandemic.

Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray in his live address on Friday evening, warned that a decision on enforcing lockdown may be taken in the next two days. Thackeray said, “I am warning of a complete lockdown, not declaring it as of now. I will see if we can find a workable solution to stop the surge.”
The state government may impose lockdown in eight areas, like Mumbai, Pune, Thane, and Nagpur, that are leading the surge, rather than imposing a statewide lockdown. A 12-hour daily curfew has already been declared in Pune.
In Chhattisgarh, the state government has imposed a nine-day lockdown in Durg and Bemetera districts, which have emerged as Covid hotspots. Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan ordered a complete 3-day lockdown in Chhindwara district. Weekend lockdown from Saturday 9 pm till Monday 6 am has been imposed in Bhopal, Indore, Jabalpur, Betul, Chhindwara, Khargone, Ratlam, Gwalior, Ujjain, Vidisha and Narsinghpur districts. In Karnataka, the state government has imposed new restrictions in eight districts, that include closure of schools, gyms and swimming pools. Night curfews are already in place in most of the cities of Punjab.

Only announcements of night curfew and partial lockdown will not do. These are mostly on paper, whereas the ground realities are quite different. Maharashtra government had already announced strict measures, but most of it are either not being implemented in full or being enforced in a cosmetic manner. In my prime time show ‘Aaj Ki Baat’ on Friday night, we showed how thousands of people gathering in Basavat Bavdhan area of Maharashtra’s Satara district to celebrate an annual Bagad Yatra festival that takes place soon after Holi. Thousands of people, jampacked in crowds, took part in the yatra. This is an open invitation to the Coronavirus that spreads wherever crowds assemble.
India TV reporter said, for the last one month, meetings were going on between the district administration, police and local community on whether to allow the yatra to take place or not. There was no yatra after Holi, but after four days, all of a sudden, thousands of villagers came out and took part in the yatra. The local administration was helpless. When videos of the yatra surfaced, police filed FIRs and detained nearly 50 villagers. The local villagers had a simple question: if huge election rallies and road shows can be organized in other states, then why not a yatra?
Satara district is close to Pune, one of the top hotspots where Covid pandemic is raging, but the administration failed to prevent crowds from taking out the yatra. In Pune city alone, more than 9,000 fresh cases were reported on a single day. Had the administration taken timely action, the spread of pandemic could have been prevented.
Same is the situation in Mumbai. Every day there are crowds inside local trains, buses and markets, but no action was taken. The result: the daily surge in Mumbai alone was 8,832. The situation is going out of control in Asia’s largest sum, Dharavi, where several lakh people living in congested localities.
I have heard there are many people who are under the false impression that they would never be infected by the virus as they have developed strong immunity. I want to tell them that Coronavirus does not spare any one, irrespective of whether one has developed immunity or not. Take the instance of our sports icon Sachin Tendulkar. He avoids crowds, sticks to his practices and game, never meets strangers, and yet he was hospitalized on Friday after he was found Covid positive. How: He had gone to Raipur to lead India Legends team in Road Safety World Series. After defeating Sri Lanka, when he returned home, the virus came with him.
Take the case of Robert Vadra. I know him personally, goes to gym daily, takes care of his body and immunity, practices social distancing, had no symptoms, but was found Covid positive.. He is presently in home quarantine. More examples: actor Alia Bhatt, physically fit but was infected with the virus, superstar Aamir Khan, takes care of his physique, practices social distancing, and yet he is in home quarantine. BJP MP Manoj Kotak was infected by the virus twice. Milind Soman, who is always physically fit, was tested Covid positive.

With the virus spreading fast in Delhi too, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday appealed to the Centre to allow vaccination of all people above the age of 18 years. He however ruled out a lockdown, but added a rider saying that he would consult people before imposing any lockdown. To vaccinate all above the age of 18 years, a huge number of vaccines and health workers are required. It is nice to find that a large number of people have started turning up to take vaccines. Till now, more than 7 crore Indians have registered their names for vaccine. Out of them, 3.75 crore people walked in to vaccination centres to get the jabs, according to official data.
I will again appeal to all to get your names registered on CoWin App, take appointment, and go to the nearest vaccination centre to take the jab. Do not delay. Cast aside the false notion that nothing may happen to you because your immunity is strong. Discard wrong impressions of people who claim that they will never get the virus, because they toil hard in summer, do their gym workouts regularly. Listen to experts who are saying that the virus may attack any individual, immunity or no immunity.

Once the Coronavirus start invading your cells, tissues and organs, you will know the trauma a patient has to go through. If you take the vaccines, there may be a slim chance of being hospitalized. You can recover by undergoing treatment at home. Remember how superstar Salman Khan, who takes meticulous care of his physique, opted to take the vaccine for protecting himself from the virus. Actor like Saif Ali Khan, who is a fitness freak, Ravi Shastri, who spends most of his time playing cricket with players, Malaika Arora, a role model for women who take care of their physical fitness: all of them got vaccinated.

My advice is: Fear the virus, but do not fear the vaccine. The Covid vaccines are safe, they are meant to protect you when the virus strikes your body, the vaccine is your guarantee of life. If you take the jab, you will not have to go to the hospital, if you are infected.. One more advice: do not jostle in crowds to take vaccine. Take your appointment and await your turn. And, of course the perennial advice: Continue with Covid precautions, wearing masks, avoiding crowded places, frequent washing of hands and social distancing. We will beat this pandemic together.

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