The COVID-19 pandemic in India, now in a second wave, is witnessing a very aggressive and sharp spike once again, a little over a year after the pandemic’s first wave raged across the nation. Yesterday, 4th April, India registered 1, 03, 794 new COVID infections (as per covid19india.org). This is the highest number of new infections the country has ever witnessed in a single day and also the first time that the daily count of new infections has crossed the 1-lakh limit. The previous daily high of 97, 894 was logged on September 17th, 2020. The total case load in the country reached 1, 25, 89, 019 with active cases standing at 7, 38, 694.
Looking at the state level break-up, ~58% of all active cases in the country are from one state, Maharashtra which is bearing the worst brunt of the second wave. Out of the 1.03 lakh+ new infections reported on 4th April, 57, 074 cases were reported from Maharashtra alone. Capital Mumbai itself saw 11, 206 new infections while Pune district reported 12, 472 new cases. The government of Maharashtra has already announced a night curfew and from the coming weekend, a lockdown will be imposed from Friday evening to Monday morning during which only essential services will be allowed.
In terms of new cases of infection, the states/UTs that follow Maharashtra are: Chattisgarh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat and Kerala. These 10 states account for 87% of the new cases of the disease for 4th April.
In light of the sharp increase in the cases of the disease, the prime minister yesterday held a review meeting on the same with special focus on Maharashtra. The review meeting attributed the spurt in cases primarily to a sharp decline in Covid-appropriate behavior especially usage of masks and social distancing in the recent weeks. From April 1st, the central government has increased the vaccine coverage to all above the age of 45 years. So far, 7, 91, 05, 163 vaccines have been administered across the country.
Increasing the complication is the fact that 4 states: West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and the UT of Puducherry are having assembly elections which further increases the risk of spread of the virus. In both TN and West Bengal, the number of cases is already on an upward trajectory.
While Tamil Nadu will vote on 6th April, West Bengal assembly elections is being conducted in 8 phases with 2 phases already over but 6 still pending and going on till 29th April, thus increasing the risk factor more here. While the Election Commission of India is ensuring covid compliant behavior in polling booths, the same hardly holds true for the campaigning where social distancing norms are rarely being practiced.
The government was forced to impose a nation-wide lockdown little over a year ago to stop the spread of the pandemic. However, the lockdown had a steep economic impact from which the economy is still not fully recovered. Therefore, another lockdown should be the last resort as a measure to check spread of the virus. On the other hand, if the current spread is not controlled, as cautioned by doctors and medical experts, the health infrastructure would soon get overwhelmed. On the government’s part, ensuring compliance of covid-proper behavior and stepping up the vaccination drive should be the top priorities. However, as citizens, we also have the responsibility to adhere to the proper behavior and most importantly, get vaccinated (those who are eligible) on priority because without active cooperation from us, no steps by the government would be fully effective.
(* all facts and figures used in this article are sourced from https://www.covid19india.org/)