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Don’t panic yet ‘but keep eye on Covid numbers’

In its advisory to states, Union health ministry mentions an ‘alarmingly high’ number of fresh Covid cases in China, Japan and South Korea

Sanjay Mandal, Subhajoy Roy | Published 24.12.22, 07:19 AM
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Public health experts, doctors and several hospitals on Friday tried to allay the renewed fears over Covid and said although precautions like wearing masks should be taken, there was no need for panic at the moment. Keep an eye on the number of daily new cases, they said.

Since the Union health ministry had issued advisories on December 20 for the state governments to send samples of all Covid positive cases for genome sequencing at designated laboratories and subsequently another advisory on December 22 to the civil aviation ministry, there has been panic and confusion among a section of the people, said public health experts and hospitals.

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In its advisory to the state governments, the Union health ministry had mentioned an “alarmingly high” number of fresh Covid cases in countries like China, Japan and South Korea.

In the past two days, circulars, many of which health officials said were fake, and memes are being circulated on social media to fan fear. Several hospitals are flooded with phone calls for preventive medicines.

There are also many queries about the third dose of Covid vaccines from those who had resisted taking the precautionary shot earlier.

“The government’s duty is to act and not create unnecessary confusion. The Union health ministry should clarify the exact situation in India instead of focusing on China. We should be careful but we should not panic so early,” said public health expert Abhijit Chowdhury.

On December 23, West Bengal had five new Covid cases, according to the state health department. It was nine on December 22. The number was 75 on October 23.

Apollo Hospitals issued a statement on Friday. “The news of the Covid situation in China is leading to many rumours and conversations not based on scientific facts about the impact on India and the rest of the world, but we believe there is absolutely no need to panic.

“India has a high level of hybrid immunity. As a result of the high vaccination coverage, over 220 crore doses were given as of date and infection with the Omicron variant in early 2022. However, it is always advisable to take precautions such as using masks in a crowded place, avoiding crowded places, especially for vulnerable groups, maintaining social distancing, frequently washing hands and using sanitisers. One should also take the booster dose of the vaccine if not taken yet, across all eligible age groups,” the statement issued by the hospital chain said.

Chandramouli Bhattacharya, infectious diseases expert at Peerless Hospital, pointed out that the number of cases was “yet too low”. He said: “But having said that, there is also a possibility of another fresh wave. However, instead of getting panicked, surveillance by hospitals and doctors should increase, and those who have respiratory distress and fever, along with travel history, should be tested for Covid. The hospitals should be prepared for increasing infrastructure again if required.”

“Also, those who were reluctant to take the second and third doses should take those for increased immunity. The government should encourage people to wear masks in public places. This should be adequate for the time being,” said Bhattacharya.

Last updated on 24.12.22, 09:03 AM
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