Threat of Covid Surge looms large amid Gangasagar Mela : Expert

Kolkata: Gangasagar mela may lead to skyrocketing of Covid cases and put the lives of people in West Bengal in peril as Covid caseload continues to increase during the third wave, according to Naresh Purohit, Visiting Professor at the Kolkata-based West Bengal University of Health Sciences, School of Public Health.

Sharing his concern here on Saturday with UNI on the alarming rise of Covid cases in Kolkata, senior epidemiologist Purohit said, ‘ Unregulated gatherings in the city of joy are among the key reasons behind the surge in Covid-19 cases. The recently concluded Kolkata Municipal Corporation polls, Christmas and New Year celebrations are to be blamed for the unprecedented rise in new infections in the city. ‘

‘ Omicron variant has been causing a surge in Covid-19 infection across the world. The number of hospitalisations is less, but the spread of infection is faster, owing to a high number of mutations the Omicron possesses. India is seeing an exponential rise in the number of omicron driven coronavirus cases. The country’s current R naught value is 2.69, higher than the 1.69 recorded during the peak of the pandemic’s second wave. ‘

He said, ‘ The situation in Kolkata is very alarming and the kind of healthcare infrastructure we have isn’t enough. More than 1,000 doctors across West Bengal have tested positive for Covid-19. ‘

‘ It’s no secret that the urban part of the city is likely to be affected more and now the administration is busy with the Gangasagar Mela. If regular testing is done, we will surely touch the figure of 1 lakh positive cases daily, ‘ he stated.

Purohit apprehended given how doctors and nurses were being affected by the virus, the healthcare system in the state will collapse.

“ Above all, the isolation period of Covid cases has been reduced to seven days from 10 days earlier, which shows that even the administration wants healthcare workers to return to work at the earliest, ” he added.

Purohit, also Advisor for National Immunisation Programme, averred that as per the recent WHO report Omicron variant can evade previous immunity in people and can still infect those who have had Covid-19 in the past. Individuals who have recovered from Covid-19 are 3 to 5 times more likely to be reinfected with Omicron compared to Delta.

The renowned physician averred, ‘ Omicron is COVID, it is not a cold, and must be treated as such.

Lot of Omicron positive cases are recommended home isolation. Patients are requested to adhere to the stipulated period in which one is supposed to have no contact with other people. ‘

He said, ‘ There is a tendency to take things easier at home, for some. That should not be the case. Breaking the rules within your four walls, simply means you may infect others in your family, or those who live with you. This may be the elderly or somebody with comorbidities and the virus may certainly not be mild for them. ‘

He further said, ‘ Since we see several asymptomatic cases, especially during this wave, it does not mean it is safe to go about, and you should not construe it as such. ‘

He categorically stated that just because one is at home, it does not give one licence to flout rules.

‘ Adhere to all protocol measures in the house. The timeframe has been given on scientific basis and logic, follow it to the letter, ‘ he mentioned.


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