Staring at another wave?

There is a possibility of last year’s situation repeating, but the severity of the infection and fatality rate could be less, opine experts

About six hundred and twenty days into the pandemic, the threat of another wave of COVID infections is looming large on the State, thanks to the forsaken ‘COVID-appropriate behaviour’ among the majority of the public, the emergence of new and ‘highly transmissible’ variants of the novel coronavirus and rising incidence of infection in various States of the country.

Though Andhra Pradesh has not seen a rise in the number of infections or the test positivity rate for several weeks, the possibility of witnessing a different scenario in the coming weeks cannot be ruled out as COVID safety precautions like wearing masks, washing or sanitising hands frequently and physical distancing are mostly ignored. People going around public and crowded places without masks has become a common sight and physical distancing even in closed places has become a thing of the past. To enforce the COVID safety measures, the government authorities have imposed restrictions on New Year celebrations which witness large gatherings of the public.

The State had already reported 17 cases of COVID infections due to the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus and three of them were close contacts of the foreign returnees who had come to the State recently. The number could increase as more positive samples of people related to foreign returnees were sent for genome sequencing.

Precisely a year ago, the State was under the threat of the second wave with the emergence of Delta variant and two months later the incidence of infections started increasing. Later, the State had seen its worst days as hundreds of deaths were reported daily.

Experts opine that a similar situation could repeat but the severity of the infection and fatality rate could be less compared to the second wave.

Meanwhile, one advantage the State has is that all the eligible population (18+) received at least one dose of vaccine against COVID-19 as per the claims of the Health Department.

Against the total eligible population of 3.95 crore, 3,96,82,528 first doses were administered so far and of them 2,96,27,662 persons received both doses, as per the Cowin portal as of 10 p.m., Thursday.

On the other hand, the government is also going to start vaccination for children aged between 15 and 18 and booster dose for frontline and healthcare workers and senior citizens with comorbidities from January 3.

With this, more people would be ‘protected’ from the virus and with the third dose of vaccine the most vulnerable will be more capable to fight the infection.

During the past fortnight (December 17-30) the State reported 1,560 infections and 19 deaths and in the previous fortnight (December 2-16) 2,167 infections and 30 deaths were reported. The test positivity rate also came down to 0.39% from 0.51% in the last fortnight.

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