Just when we began celebrating the success of our vaccination drive, the second wave of Covid-19 came raging upon us. With India witnessing a surge in numbers of almost 50,000-plus each day, alarm bells rang once again. Maharashtra has been hit the most - with more than 40,000 cases reported daily. Mumbai is once again becoming the victim and the frontrunner in our battle against Covid-19.
One of the worrisome parts is the newly discovered double mutant that may affect people in Maharashtra. Usually, the mutation does not cause many changes in the presentation. So far, it has been observed that patients have reported a lot of weakness, persistent fever and increased respiratory problems.
We are also witnessing a rise in Covid-19 cases among children, some asymptomatic and some with mild symptoms. The surge in cases in Maharashtra could be attributed to non-adherence to Covid-appropriate behaviour and asymptomatic people could be the potential carriers of the virus.
According to the latest analysis, the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG) established by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Govt of India, there has been an increase in the fraction of samples with the E484Q and L452R mutations in Covid within the state. Such mutations confer immune escape and increased infectivity. While the strain is not very virulent, its transmissibility is high.
These have been categorised as variants of concern (VoCs) and require the same epidemiological and public health response of increased testing, comprehensive tracking of close contacts, prompt isolation of positive cases and contacts. The treatment protocol remains unchanged. Hence it is important the common man does not get alarmed; the mutations are for scientists to work on. Citizens must continue to follow the same Covid-appropriate protocol – sanitising, masking and social distancing.
The government is increasing testing, tracking, and treating mechanisms to control the spread of Covid-19 and has imposed strict restriction policies and lockdowns in some cities of Maharashtra.
Vaccination will also help control the spread of coronavirus and lessen the mortality rate. Currently, we have vaccines with an efficacy of up to 90 per cent. So even if there is a slight fall in efficacy, they will still be effective in preventing the virus from spreading rapidly.
It is also imperative to understand and look for early warning signs, such as a drop in oxygen levels, fever, persistent dry cough, breathlessness and unexplained chest pain. It is critical to take your health and safety precautions seriously and follow corona-appropriate behaviour.
Safety precautions that we can take to minimise exposure and risk include:
· Staying indoors
· Social distancing (minimum of six feet between two individuals)
· Masking - It is a must to wear a mask
· Regular handwashing with soap and water/ sanitising hands
· Covering the face and mouth while sneezing or coughing
· Staying home if not feeling well, to avoid spread of germs/ infection
· Intake of Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Zinc supplements
· Consuming a balanced diet and immunity-boosting foods
· Consulting a doctor and getting a Covid test done if one has any symptoms
It is also critical for patients who have recovered to follow the guidelines. The National Health Service has put together a guide to help patients who’ve recovered from Covid-19.
The 3-P plan guideline focuses on Pace-Plan-Prioritise.
Pace: Don’t expect to go back to your normal day-to-day routine immediately after having recovered or after you return from the hospital
Plan: Instead of putting together a list of daily chores, spread out your chores across the week
Prioritise: Split your to-do list into chores that you can do yourself and those you need help with. It would be ideal to delegate your outdoor work to another family member, if possible.
To conclude, you mustn't let your guard down. Adopt and apply good practices that will safeguard the health of your family and society.
The writer is Director, Critical Care, Fortis Hospitals Mumbai