Covid-19: The good and bad news
The first wave is receding, but the second wave may not be far offUpdated: Oct 08, 2020 19:29 IST
The first wave of Covid-19 has started receding in India over the last three weeks, for the first time since the disease began spreading in the country. As this newspaper reported on Thursday, new infections have dropped 20% from peak levels in the last 21 days while daily deaths are down 16% from peak levels. While other countries have seen fluctuations and waves (the United States, for instance, is on its third wave) India’s trajectory had been climbing consistently.
As the first wave starts receding, it offers the both the State and citizens a moment to reflect on the lessons and the current situation. Doctors and scientists are learning more about the disease every passing day — they have a better sense of which treatments work and (just as importantly) which don’t; or when to hospitalise patients and when to isolate them at their homes. India also has the luxury of being able to observe the progression of the disease in countries that are in more advanced stages of the outbreak. The global experience shows that it is almost inevitable that another wave of infections (and subsequently, deaths) will take place. In most countries, the second wave has been stronger than the first, but decidedly less fatal. Experts suspect that India’s second wave may come on the heels of the festive season — Dussehra, Durga Puja, Eid Milad-un-Nabi, Diwali and Chhath will all be celebrated in the next month-and-a-half — and in winter. Sars-Cov-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, is a child of winter. Like all respiratory ailments, cold climate gives it ideal conditions to thrive. Winter also offers the virus plenty of cover with a spike in several other diseases such as the common cold, influenza and other respiratory infections that can present identical symptoms.
All of this sets the stage for a crucial few months ahead. While the virus gets better conditions to spread and thrive, doctors and scientists are now better prepared for the battle ahead. While the government must not let its guard down, citizens will have a critical role in shaping the trajectory of the disease. They will need to display a keen sense of individual responsibility through the festive season — when they visit temples, pandals or when they meet relatives at home. The government’s campaign, launched on Thursday, to encourage citizens to adopt Covid-19-appropriate behaviour is welcome. How citizens behave, how stringently they wear masks, how carefully they remain socially distant may be the difference between life and death in the coming weeks.