Importance of wearing mask and social distancing. The Centre did the right thing by urging states to relax the restrictions imposed in response to the pandemic’s third wave. With only 30,000 instances reported in the last three days, a significant drop from the peak of 3.4 lakh cases on January 23, it’s reasonable to assume that the worst of the Omicron-driven wave has passed. However, due to the virus’s well-known propensity for surprising people, caution must be maintained. Although numerous nations have dropped their mask restrictions, experts have correctly pointed out that it is not yet appropriate to abandon the virus’s most essential defense. For a densely populated country like India, caution is especially useful. “We have to wear masks in the same manner we wear shoes when we venture out,” Prime Minister Modi advised last year, and his advice still holds today. The government’s most recent advisory does an excellent job of emphasizing the need to wear masks.
There is no agreement among epidemiologists as to whether Omicron represents the virus’s endgame. Some of them believe Covid is on its way to becoming endemic, but there’s no way of knowing how long this process will take or how the pathogen will behave in the interim. The World Health Organization has warned that the introduction of additional infectious variations than Omicron cannot be ruled out. Though experts agree that the virus is less likely to create the havoc it did last year, they also warn that declining vaccine protection — or previous infection — could work in the pathogen’s favor. India has outperformed several industrialized countries, with over 80% of the adult population having gotten two shots of the Covid vaccination. Pediatric vaccination, on the other hand, is limited to children aged 15 to 18, and the campaign has progressed in fits and starts. Only a tiny percentage of the adult population in the country is currently eligible for the third, or “precautionary” dose. This is although multiple studies have proven that boosters significantly extend immunity. Some specialists have suggested that booster shots be given regularly, especially to the fragile and immunocompromised, to prevent Covid episodes. India should not be an exception in these discussions.
The Covid task force had noticed the drop in mask use after the ebbing of the second wave in December of last year, around the time Omicron began to manifest in the country. Before the pandemic took a disastrous turn previous summer, a Covid-weary population had developed a false feeling of security. When the virus is on the decline, the public health information system must continue to drive home the message of caution. It must become much more powerful. This needs to be supplemented by a disease surveillance system that can detect changes in the virus’s properties.