With swelling number of fresh covid-19 cases, India appears to mimic the characteristics of countries who have already witnessed or are witnessing the second wave of coronavirus infections. The country reported 16,577 coronavirus infections and 120 deaths in last 24 hours, which has surpassed the average of below 10,000 cases and 100 deaths each day until last month.
Over 86.18% of the new cases are from six states. Maharashtra continues to report the highest daily new cases at 8,702. It is followed by Kerala with 3,677 while Punjab reported 563 new cases, the Union health ministry data shows. Similarly, six states account for 85.83%of the new deaths. Maharashtra saw the maximum casualties (56). Kerala reported 14 deaths and Punjab reported 13.
Public health experts caution that India may be on the verge of a second wave of the covid-19 pandemic, given the fact that there has been complacency in the adhering to the covid-appropriate behaviour. “As the number of cases reduced in the past months, major risk factors, especially regard for strict social distancing norms eased considerably among the population. A wide complacency has surfaced, the damage of which can potentially offset the achievements made in managing the infection so far," said Suresh Sharma, head, Population Research Center, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi University.
Sharma argues that higher population density during public gatherings, housing situation, etc. has been significantly normalized, which in essence could have serious implications for the recent surge in the covid-19 cases. Another reason of the recent surge could be attributed to the closed space gatherings during winter months; nature of such arrangements that is essentially regarded conducive to the spread of the infection. “The onset of a potential second wave in India is almost similar to what has been witnessed in the US where the second wave was noted during the summer months and was mostly contained to sunbelt states," said Sharma.
“Among countries that have witnessed a second wave of the pandemic, the majority, with the exception of Germany, recorded a relatively lower spike in mortality rates when compared with the spike in deaths recorded during the first wave," he said.
India’s active caseload is 155,986 on Friday comprising 1.41% of the total positive cases which slipped below 1.3% in last few weeks. This is largely attributable to the upsurge in daily new cases in some States/UTs, the government has said. The total tally of covid-19 cases on Friday climbed to 11,063,082 and the toll touched 156,861. India is currently at the second spot in terms of covid-19 cases in the world after the US, which has more than 28,410,917 cases.
Sharma further said that nevertheless, the infection rates observed, especially in many European countries, were worse off than what was seen during the first wave. “Takeaways from countries such as Denmark, often regarded as a good performer during both the waves, should be noted as India stands on the verge of being hit with a second wave. Efforts made by countries which have successfully managed to keep the second wave short-lived should be implemented, as suitable," he said.
India has started vaccinating its population against covid-19 since 16 January 2021. India’s cumulative covid-19 vaccination coverage has crossed 13.4 million. As at 7 am today, the vaccination coverage was 13,472,643 through 278,915 sessions, as per the provisional report. This includes first dose for 6,621,418 healthcare workers (HCWs), second dose for 2,032,994 HCWs and first dose for 4,818,231 front line workers (FLWs).
The second dose of covid-19 vaccination started on 13 February 2021 for those beneficiaries who have completed 28 days after receipt of the first dose. Vaccination of the FLWs started on 2 Feb 2021, the Union health ministry data shows. Nine states and Union territories (UTs) have vaccinated less than 60% of the registered HCWs. These are Arunachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Telangana, Ladakh, Chandigarh, Nagaland, Punjab and Puducherry. Thirteen states/UTs have vaccinated less than 40% of registered FLWs.
These are Chandigarh, Nagaland, Telangana, Mizoram, Punjab, Goa, Arunachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Manipur, Assam, A&N Islands, Meghalaya and Puducherry.
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