March 24, 2021 6:39:37 am
As alarm bells got ringing in Punjab with 81 per cent of samples out of 401 sent for genome sequencing testing positive for the UK strain of Covid-19, the state government’s health adviser and Covid expert committee head Dr KK Talwar Tuesday said they were expecting the second wave of the pandemic to peak in the last week of March and it would be worse than the earlier peak.
Talking to The Indian Express, Dr Talwar said that the new strain was 70 per cent more infectious than the earlier strain but was not as virulent.
He said the report of the genome sequencing received Tuesday had only comfirmed their fears of a more infectious UK strain, “We were concerned if there is a mutation of the virus as there was a sudden spurt in Covid cases in Punjab. The report has confirmed the UK strain,” said Dr Talwar adding that the UK strain was found in three month old samples too.
“The UK strain has been here for quite some time now. The first samples were collected in January. We had not got the report despite repeated requests to Centre. Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan had been pushing for the report. We finally got it and it has confirmed that it is UK strain,” he said.
He added that they are hoping that it peaks as per the projections and in a week’s time the cases start to go down.
According to Dr Talwar, opening of colleges particularly has appeared to contributed to the spurt in cases. “As per the data available, the younger people have contracted the virus more than anybody else. They are the ones who appeared not to be careful. They were mingling amongst each other and must have spread the virus.”
Also, Dr Talwar said, the pandemic fatigue had set in and life went on as usual. “There were functions, weddings and gatherings. People stopped wearing masks. That is why this kind of peak has taken place. Now, more number of people are getting infected.”
About the suggestions given to the government on containing the virus, Dr Talwar said, “We have suggested closing of colleges and schools. The government has done that. Picture will be clearer in the next 7-10 days.”
He advised people to follow Covid guidelines, mask up and ensure social distancing. The health adviser said that since the virus was more infectious. “It spreads faster in the closed environments. It can spread even in the open if people are not wearing masks and not ensuring social distancing. It is time for everybody to minimise socialising for a few days.”
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