As we gear up for the festive season, many people are planning reunions, shopping sprees and eating at their favourite restaurants once again during the pujas this year, as they did when life was normal. However, there is no guarantee that things will go back to pre-lockdown normality, at least in the coming months.
As experts warn, the upcoming festivals and more economic activities as the lockdown restrictions are eased may further add to the rising number of Covid-19 cases in India, if proper precautions are not taken, especially in the months of October and November. While the country may gradually warm up to the idea of celebrating the festive season in a better situation, people may witness a second wave of coronavirus infections, they warn.
Dr Kaushik Bhattacharya, a senior surgeon of Siliguri, who recently attended a webinar organised by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, UK, on lessons learnt from the Covid pandemic and preparations for a second wave, told this correspondent today that the dreaded disease may come back with greater virulence for a second time in the next two months, not only in other countries of the world, but also in India. “With the Covid-19 pandemic spiraling across the world, it is high time we prepared for a second wave of infections. The World Health Organisation has asked European countries to prepare for a second wave in the October-November period,” he said.
Many countries in Europe have recently toughened up measures to control the surge of SARS-CoV-2 in the coming months. On September 14, for instance, social gatherings of more than six people were banned in England, while on the same day, French cities of Marseille and Bordeaux announced a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people.
“Some countries in the continent such as Albania and Bulgaria witnessed a bigger spike of cases in August than in other months of the year, which has made the fear of a second wave, very real,” he said.
The senior surgeon felt that a second wave was most likely to hit India in the next few months, especially Covid hotspots like Delhi, Maharashtra and Orissa, where the daily cases are rising after a brief halt or plateau.
“With the festival season round the corner and the increase in the number of tests and contact tracing, the number of cases may go up in the coming months. The reports of increase in recovery rates have created a false sense of security among the general masses. But we should never relax as the worst is yet to come,” he said.
According to him, a massive campaign should be launched immediately to generate awareness among the masses, especially in rural areas, about the need to wear masks constantly, follow social distancing and maintain personal hygiene. People should be educated to wear masks properly-covering chin to nose, he said.
“The country’s healthcare infrastructure may collapse completely and there may be an acute shortage of healthcare facilities and personnel if we do not prepare properly and immediately to counter the veritable threat of a second and more virulent wave,” he cautioned.