Updated: June 19, 2021 8:13:48 pm
Amid reports of widespread violations of Covid norms from certain parts of the country, AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria on Saturday warned that the third wave of the pandemic can hit India in the next six to eight weeks if Covid-appropriate behaviour is not followed.
Though many epidemiologists have already indicated that a third wave is inevitable, they had said that it is likely to hit the country in September-October.
“If Covid-appropriate behaviour is not followed, the third wave can happen in six to eight weeks. We need to work aggressively to prevent another large wave till vaccination kicks in,” Guleria was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
“However, a national-level lockdown cannot be a solution (to rein in the pandemic) keeping economic activity in mind,” he further said, adding that there is a need for stricter surveillance and area-specific lockdowns in case of a significant surge.
Guleria’s statement came a day after the Delhi High Court took note of Covid norms being violated in markets in the national capital following the easing of restrictions this week and warned that the breach of protocol will only hasten the third wave.
Taking note of certain photographs sent to one of the judges of the High Court by an AIIMS doctor showing scant regard for Covid protocols by street vendors in markets, a vacation bench of Justices Navin Chawla and Asha Menon directed the Centre and the Delhi government to submit status reports about the situation. The third wave cannot be permitted at all, Delhi HC stated.
“We have paid a huge price in the second wave. We don’t know if there is any household which has not suffered in the second wave, closely or remotely,” the bench had observed.
The court had also asked authorities to take strict measures against violators, sensitise shopkeepers and hold meetings with markets and vendors associations in this regard.
Earlier in the day, the Centre stated that the easing of Covid-related lockdown norms has led to crowding in public places and urged states to ensure the “extremely important” five-fold strategy of Covid-appropriate behaviour, test-track-treat, and vaccination was in place to prevent the spread of the disease. In a letter to all states and Union Territories (UTs), Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said that vaccination against Covid-19, in the present scenario, is critical to break the chain of transmission.
Therefore, all state and UT governments should step up the speed of vaccination to cover the maximum number of people in an expeditious manner, he said.
Bhalla said while the opening up of activities after decline in cases is essential, states and UTs must ensure the whole process is “carefully calibrated”. “However, easing of restrictions in some states have led to the resumption of crowding of people in markets etc., without adherence to the norms of Covid-appropriate behaviour,” he added.
Large-scale violation of Covid norms in public places have been reported from many parts of the country ever since restrictions were relaxed.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said that the decision to reimpose restrictions was taken because various tourist places and markets have been witnessing huge crowds. After granting some major relaxations in Covid restrictions for Pune residents earlier this week, the municipal corporation later rolled back some of them, announcing that weekend lockdowns will stay for now and all non-essential shops will remain closed on Saturdays and Sundays.
“We have seen in last few days huge crowds at hill stations, tourist spots and markets. It’s beyond my understanding why citizens are behaving in this manner,” said Pawar.
With 60,753 new Covid cases being reported in a day, India’s total tally rose to 2,98,23,546, while the number of active cases stand at 7,60,019, the lowest in 74 days, according to Union health ministry data updated on Saturday.
The death toll climbed to 3,85,137 with 1,647 fresh fatalities and active cases comprise 2.55 per cent of the total infections, while the national Covid recovery rate has improved to 96.16 per cent, the data updated at 8 am showed.
Appealing to people not to drop their guard, Guleria also said that the moment a significant surge in cases is noted in a particular area and the positivity rate goes beyond 5 per cent, area-specific lockdown and containment measures should be implemented.
He, however, reiterated that till now, there is no evidence to suggest that children will be affected more in the next wave of the pandemic.
(With inputs from PTI)
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