Physical, psychological, social and familial collateral damage inflicted upon the healthcare workforce must be addressed, they say
Another wave of COVID-19 — with a slightly lower peak — may hit the country by the end of August, according to a well-known Kolkata doctor who has attended to nearly 4,000 patients.
“Nationally, the number of daily cases has plateaued at about 35,000. But COVID-19 has not disappeared, it will come back inevitably. My assessment is not based on any model but on the current pattern visible in the country. The new wave is most likely going to originate from Kerala and Maharashtra and spill over to other States,” said Dr. Rahul Jain, an internal medicine specialist at the Bellevue Clinic.
This third wave, according to Dr. Jain, should peak around end-September and was more likely to affect semi-urban and rural areas. “Lockdowns are no longer feasible. Masks, therefore, are a must, irrespective of whether you are vaccinated. Unnecessary crowding is also not a good idea,” he said.
West Bengal, Dr. Jain said, had done slightly better than the rest of the country in dealing with the pandemic, and that Kolkata was better placed now than cities because of higher vaccine coverage. “However, no one can afford to be callous. We can’t afford any more lockdowns due to the huge economic impact. Masks will be the only saviour for all,” he said.
According to Dr. Koushik Lahiri, vice-president of West Bengal Doctors’ Forum, the situation in West Bengal was now under control — the number of daily cases in the State has come down to around 700 — but lack of adherence to COVID-appropriate behaviour could pave the road for a third wave.
“Vaccination wise, West Bengal is among the top five or six States. But we must also remember that the second wave has not completely waned off and we need to be careful as before,” Dr. Lahiri said.
Dr. Koushik Chaki, a founding member of the forum, said: “Overall, the situation [in West Bengal] is better. But we cannot shun pandemic-appropriate behaviour. Economic and educational activities must start, but with extreme caution and in a gradual and graded manner. It’s time for the government to announce much needed steps to repair the physical, psychological, social, and familial collateral damage the pandemic has inflicted upon the healthcare workforce — this can’t wait. Vaccination should be done at a faster pace and there should be readiness for yet another wave.”