Covid-19: Preparing for 3rd wave
On August 23, an expert panel, set up by the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM), an institute under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), has predicted that India may be hit by the third wave of COVID-19 anytime between September and October. In its report submitted to the Prime Minister’s Office, the expert panel has also cautioned that due to the lack of required paediatric facilities, doctors, and equipment; the children will have a similar risk as adults in the possible third wave of Covid. It was in this backdrop that Centre on August 28, extended all existing coronavirus disease (Covid-19) related protocol in India up to September 30. The Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) directed the concerned state governments to take proactive containment measures ahead of the upcoming festival season in the country. In the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, the administration has already cautioned people and the concerned officials about the possibility of a third wave of the pandemic. Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, on August 7, citing experts’ reports had cautioned that the “next 100 days are crucial”, and “We need to be alert, vigilant and must adhere to Covid protocols to prevent the third wave”. While as in rest of India, the fresh positive cases are showing an upward trend, we in Kashmir are, thankfully, in a comfortable zone as of now. But this timely comfort should not make people complacent and they should follow the SOPs in letter and spirit to ensure that the region remains safe from the predicted third wave.
The officials are of the view that the UT administration has been actively working to raise the infrastructure, manpower, and augmentation of the services in the health sector across Kashmir, since the day the Covid pandemic hit the area for the first time early last year. They claim that presently, there is more than three thousand bed capacity for the Covid patients across the Valley while as the oxygen generation capacity in terms of the installation of new plants has been enhanced to a comfortable level during the past one and a half year. As per the data available, when Covid hit the region last year, there were only two oxygen generation plants available with the health department – one at JLNM Hospital in Srinagar and second at District Hospital, Pulwama. These two plants produced a meagre amount of some 300 LPM Oxygen but now the oxygen generation plants ar installed at every major hospital in every district. Similarly, as far as the manpower is concerned, the government has hired some professionals on a contractual basis to ensure ample staff to deal with the pandemic when needed. The government has also created Defence Research and Development Organisations (DRDO) in the hospitals to ramp up the healthcare infrastructure to effectively deal with the Covid.
However, despite the fact that UT administration is fully prepared to tackle any such wave, the peoples’ cooperation is the key to the success. As the third wave reportedly may impact children too, people have to remain extra vigilant. While administration should speed up the vaccination process, the people have to understand that they are the only ones who can defeat the spread of virus. They have to follow the SOPs and realize that wearing face masks, avoiding crowded places and maintaining hand hygiene is a new norm and also understand that Coronavirus is going to stay and it can be made ineffective only by taking all prescribed precautions.