Year after lockdown, COVID surges again

New Delhi, Mar 25: Exactly a year after lockdown was imposed in the country to contain the Covid pandemic, India’s seeing a second wave of infection steeper than the first. While there is no lockdown and streets are crowded, Mumbai preparing for 10,000 cases a day by ramping up the number of hospital beds across the city. The authorities said they are aiming to have 21,000 beds.
The big concern though, is that the disease, in a first, is spreading faster in small towns and districts. There is a higher probability of healthcare facilities crumbling if the rise in cases continues, public health experts have said.
Over the last 24 hours, 53,476 Covid-19 cases were reported across the country — the highest since October 23. More 1 lakh cases were logged in a space of 48 hours. The authorities said over 80 per cent cases in the last two days were asymptomatic and the mortality rate is “extremely low”.
The surge of the virus again in Maharashtra, the state that bore the brunt of the first wave, has perplexed experts.
The government has said the presence of the three foreign mutated strains of the virus — UK, US and South Africa — or even the Indian strains, is not why the surge is happening. According to the government, the reason is laxity in following the safety protocols — like wearing of masks, maintaining social distancing or use of soap and sanitisers. But that is not enough to explain why the surge is happening only in a few states and not others.
It also does not explain why the situation is worst in Maharashtra, when elections are on in four states, where massive rallies are being held every day.
“We are also looking at why only Maharashtra has a sudden spike. Maybe in some states, more people were asymptomatic and have antibodies now,” said Dr Shekhar Mande of CSIR, adding that all of it currently is hypothetical.
Admitting that the rise in numbers is a matter of “concern” he said, “There might be several reasons behind it, including people not following Covid appropriate behaviour. Might be some mutations are spreading faster. It is all being monitored very closely right now,” he added.

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