With India witnessing a consistent decline in COVID-19 cases, top health experts have warned people to not forget to follow the COVID appropriate behaviour in the upcoming wedding season to avoid the infection's resurgence.
According to Dr Naveet Wig, Chairperson of COVID Task Force in All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), the present situation resembles the time before the second wave hit the country.
"Looking around us, the feeling one gets is that we have overcome COVID-19 pandemic and the public at large has lowered the guard. It resembles the situation before the second wave hit India," Dr Wig said in an interview with ANI.
"The past one and half years of COVID have taught us a lot, the most important of which is not to underestimate the possibility of a new wave. It is important to keep up our guard as the next wave may be lurking around the corner," he added.
Dr Wig further explained the COVID-19 resurgence in Europe and said, "Europe is facing a resurgent COVID-19 wave, which is forcing shutdowns and restrictions across the continent. Record level of infections and the staggering number of hospitalizations are forcing the authorities to go back to strict measures, which seemed unlikely, till recent past."
Lauding the efforts of the country in ramping up the Covid vaccination drives and efforts to lower the infection rate, he said, "Closer home, the situation is much improved with the number of new infections showing a downward trajectory for many weeks now. Authorities have done well to ramp up the vaccination drive and gradually remove restrictions in a phased manner."
Raising a sign of caution, Founder and Director of Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals Dr Shuchin Bajaj noted that the reason for the second wave was laxity on part of the people and said it is time to exercise precautions.
"Festive and wedding seasons are the times when we need to adhere to the Covid guidelines. Our negligence can lead to a grave situation. We have already seen how our ignorance towards following the Covid-19 guidelines had led to the deadly second wave. So, in the times of celebration too, we need to follow the Covid appropriate behaviours including social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands to avoid the emergence of the third wave. Fully vaccinated people should also follow the guidelines diligently," Dr Bajaj told ANI.
"It is important that public messaging should continue to encourage adherence to these measures. It is also imperative that people should complete their vaccination. Further, we should also consider booster additional dose of vaccine for people at highest risk like people above the age of 60 years are immunocompromised and come under comorbidities," Dr Wig suggested.
Dr Parinita Kaur, internal medicine doctor at Aakash Healthcare super speciality hospital said that whenever there is a large gathering, there is always a chance of exposure to infection. "A large number of people attend gatherings like weddings. So if gatherings happen, not only maximum people will be travelling from one city or state to another but also from one country to another," she stated.
"This will cause an inflow of people from other parts of the world and the infection might spread in such scenario. Be it flu, COVID or any other infection, the number of cases increase on exposure to infected people. The same happened earlier with swine flu. The infection was spread because of gatherings like weddings," she added.
Dr Kaur further noted that the COVID-19 cases tend to increase after festivals like Diwali and Holi, as observed earlier. "The same has not been observed after Diwali this year but it doesn't mean that we lower our guards. If we are attending a wedding function, we have to follow COVID guidelines like wearing masks and using sanitiser so that we do not expose ourselves to the infection," she said.
Europe becomes the hot spot again
The World Health Organization said last week that Europe was the hot spot of the pandemic right now, the only region in which COVID-19 deaths were rising. The autumn surge of infections is overwhelming hospitals in many Central and Eastern European nations, including Ukraine, Russia, Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Over the past several days, there have been many anti-vaccination marches in European nations as one government after another tightened measures. Dutch police arrested more than 30 people during unrest in The Hague and other towns in the Netherlands on Saturday, following much worse violence the previous night.
Austria is going into a 10-day national lockdown on Monday for everyone after first imposing a lockdown on the unvaccinated. Christmas markets in Vienna were packed Sunday with locals and tourists taking in the holiday sights before shops and food stalls are forced to close.
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