Multiple super spreader events happening in schools, colleges, offices, public transport.
The second surge of COVID-19 puts children and younger adults at high risk with the situation being very grim especially in rural and tribal areas which were spared in the first wave, warn experts even as the country has been witnessing a steady rise in cases and with the government on Thursday opening up vaccination to all persons 45 years and above.
“Children and young adults are mostly uninfected so far and therefore are at high risk of contracting the infection. The schools and colleges are functioning in most States resulting in higher risk of transmission in closed settings. Young adults have resumed working from office and are again at higher risk in closed spaces,’’ explained Giridhar R. Babu, Head of Life Course, Epidemiology, Public Health Foundation of India.
He said there are multiple super spreader events happening in schools, colleges, offices, public transport (metros).
“There is no doubt that many States are surging and as a result, the country is witnessing a rise in cases amounting to the ascending phase of a second wave. Based on some of the results of modelling done by experts at the COVID-19 study group, the peak of this wave seems to be around May, 2021. If the rise in cases continues as steeply as they are now, there will be a strain on the health system,” he said.
Stating that Maharashtra is among the worst-hit areas, Dr. Babu said vaccination is the way forward and can prevent deaths and severe illness in the vulnerable population.
“We need to ensure that vaccine coverage of vulnerable persons is done in the next two months. It will reduce overall mortality. At the same time, containment measures and strict compliance of COVID appropriate behaviour should be ensured all over,’’ he said.
Stating that rural and tribal areas are facing a grim situation now, Ravi Wankhedkar, member, Indian Medical Association (IMA), said malnutrition leading to decreased immunity, inappropriate COVID behaviour (gathering at marriages, funerals, religious functions) and lack of proper in-house quarantine facilities have increased the incidence of infection. In urban areas, higher socio-economic strata is more affected, he said.
On the third phase of the vaccination drive, Sahar Qureshi, medical superintendent, Max Smart Super Speciality Hospital, said, “We commenced with phase three of drive which allows vaccination for those above 45 years. The footfalls were lesser than expected [if we compare with March 1] since it was a working day. However, we hope this will rise during the upcoming long weekend, starting Friday. Most hospitals have enough vaccines in stock and can easily go up to 2,000 shots daily. Apart from online registrations, we also have walk-ins as well and registering beneficiaries on the spot. The timing for vaccination is between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday to Sunday. The services can be extended round the clock if required.”
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