The readying of around two lakh ICU beds, with nearly half of them supported by ventilators, signals that the public health infrastructure is preparing for a third wave. The festive season has begun with the Ganesh Chathurthi festival and economic activity is reviving rapidly and social interactions are also increasing. While vaccination is proceeding fast and many states are aiming to vaccinate all adults with at least a single dose in the next month or two, the air of inconclusivity around the coronavirus variants of concern in circulation signifies that the public health system must remain on high alert.
The rapid production of made in India ventilators has been one of the great strides made by India during the pandemic. Yet it also came to notice that there weren’t enough trained healthcare personnel to man them and flawed handling of these machines increased maintenance requirements. The ongoing focus on training to ensure smooth working of ventilators bodes well for the future too.
The second wave was particularly deadly because the surge was as sudden as the dip. So it is for peak scenarios that the public health system must prepare for. Alternatively, there needs to be greater emphasis on masking in public. The messaging on masking has tapered off because caseloads are low now. But the virus is in circulation and could recoil rapidly if immunity drops.
With the effort GoI is putting into beefing up emergency health infrastructure, it must also amp up awareness campaigns on masking and create facilities for free distribution of masks. Erring on the side of caution this festival season will keep cases low enough to give time for the vaccination campaign to cover more of the populace.
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