Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan Sunday hinted that India may see an increase in the Covid-19 transmission rate during winter.
The Minister’s comments came in the backdrop of several reports which indicated that coronavirus cases will surge in the colder weather since respiratory illnesses tend to thrive during cooler weather conditions.
Addressing his weekly social media interaction programme Sunday Samvaad, Vardhan stated that SARS-CoV-2—which causes Covid-19 infection— is a respiratory virus and the transmission of respiratory viruses is known to increase in the colder weather. Follow Coronavirus Live Updates here
“Respiratory viruses are known to thrive better in cold weather and low humidity conditions. There is another fact which needs to be kept in mind. There is overcrowding in residential dwellings of many people in the winter season. This also increases the transmission of respiratory viruses”, he added.
#WatchNow the 5th Edition of #SundaySamvaad ! Shouldn’t there be a #NewNormal for festivals ? Shouldn’t ‘Karma’ take precedence over ‘Dharma’? I answer these & much more … @MoHFW_INDIA @moesgoi @IndiaDST @DBTIndia @CSIR_IND https://t.co/PdLgDOs92c
— Dr Harsh Vardhan (@drharshvardhan) October 11, 2020
Citing the example of European countries such as the United Kingdom, Vardhan said that the number of infections has gone up with the onset of winter. “In view of these, it would not be wrong to assume that the winter season may see an increase in the rates of transmission of Sars Cov-2 in the Indian context too,” he said.
“This is the reason why we are emphasizing on diligently following the precautions prescribed by the government. They are so simple. There is no need to fear and shudder. Prevention is better than cure,” the minister said, sounding a note of caution.
He also said the government has not yet taken a view on granting emergency authorisation to vaccines in India, as and when they become available. He added that the Feluda paper strip test for SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis could be rolled out in the next few weeks.
Presently, Covid vaccines are in various stages of phases 1, 2 and 3, the results of which are awaited, Vardhan said.
Categorically denying speculation that the government is prioritizing young and working-class for the vaccine for economic reasons, Vardhan said, “The prioritisation of groups for COVID-19 vaccine shall be based on two key considerations — occupational hazard and risk of exposure to infection, and the risk of developing severe disease and increased mortality.”
On the issue of how the government plans to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine, he said that it is anticipated that supplies of vaccines would be available in limited quantities in the beginning.
(With inputs from PTI)
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