The worrying days are seemingly back. Both Covid-19-related infection and death have been on the rise from the first day of the current month. The number of people infected by the deadly pathogen last Wednesday was the highest in three months. The infection rate that had come down to below 3.0 per cent in February is now over 10 per cent. The Covid-dedicated government hospitals are experiencing a rush of patients after a long pause. The ICU (intensive care unit) beds in these hospitals are also almost fully occupied.
The reason for the resurgence of the infection remains a matter of investigation by the epidemiologists and relevant other medical researchers. The casual attitude of most people towards safeguard measures against possible infection is blamed for the ongoing situation. But some health experts intend to look beyond the safety issues.
All are aware that the virus responsible for the Covid-19 has been mutating. Then again, it is hard to rule out the entry of the new variants detected in the UK, Brazil and South Africa. One or more of these variants with greater transmissibility could be responsible for the latest resurgence of the disease. It is hard to rule out the entry of one or more variants into the country with air and land travel taking place as usual.
In the meantime, the return of the disease with its previous level of virulence has stirred up worries among the people, as none can predict the future course of the disease. Besides, the virus, it seems, has changed its behaviour, lately. It is now infecting the younger population more than before. Earlier, elderly people were the prime targets of the pathogen. The summer might have also triggered infection. All these factors deserve the attention of the relevant researchers.
The official move to rein in the spread of the second wave is now eagerly awaited. The health minister has made it known that the state of 'lockdown' is not under consideration right at this moment. He, however, has not spelt out any other measures to deal with the situation that has all the potential for turning worse. The government in the beginning drew lots of criticism due to its indecision regarding management of the pandemic.
The health authorities and the people have gone through a very difficult phase of the pandemic last year. The virus claimed quite a few thousand lives, caused substantial damage to the economy and people's livelihoods. Yet both are aware of the measures that work well during the peak days of the disease.
Whether the government would impose any sort of major restriction on the movement of transports or economic activities is an issue of great import. But it should not hesitate even for a moment to ensure compliance with all health safeguard measures such as wearing masks, social distancing, banning public gatherings and other events that carry risks of spreading the virus. Foot-dragging might prove costly in the end. Besides, the vaccination programme needs to be geared up with due seriousness.