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Testing of sewage samples planned to predict Covid waves

Physicians blame the fourth wave on people throwing caution to the wind

The Plurals News Network | Published 15.07.22, 06:11 PM
Representational image

Representational image

The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG), an umbrella forum set up under the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, is exploring options to study sewage samples for early prediction of Covid waves.

“We’re mulling the possibility of setting up an early warning system for any future wave by monitoring sewage samples. This could warn us of a possible surge in the number of cases maybe weeks before it actually takes place,” said Saumitra Das, who works as a senior advisor to INSACOG.


Citing previous instances of such public health initiatives in the case of viral diseases like polio, Das also said, “As per our current findings, no new variant is triggering the current surge. The BA.2.75 variant is just a reclassification of the Omicron form. In reality, it’s not very different from BA.2, though there could be a few additional mutations.”

“We’re observing a gradual increase in the number of Covid cases due to the BA 2.38 variant, which may become more dominant over time,” he noted.

Surge in number of COVID-19 cases

Of late, there has been a spike in the number of Covid cases in West Bengal, including Kolkata. Public health experts think that the rising number can be attributed to people’s reluctance to follow pandemic-appropriate behaviour.

“The fourth wave is raging in Kolkata and the rest of West Bengal, though the virus is gradually becoming less virulent,” said Arup Haldar, a city-based pulmonologist.

Echong Halder’s words, Ajoy Sarkar, another city-based physician, said the current virus did not seem to be affecting lungs and other organs in most patients and only people with comorbidities were at risk. "It looks like these waves will eventually turn into an influenza-like endemic."

“Hospitalisation figures clearly show that the current virus is not acutely virulent. We currently have around 700 Covid patients in hospitals across the state, though there have been around 19,000 cases in the last one week,” pointed out a senior health department official.

The Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) has recorded a significant rise in the number of Covid cases in the last fortnight. “We had recorded 342 RT-PCR positive cases on July 4, but the number jumped to 630 cases on July 14,” said Tapan Mukherjee, a health advisor of the civic body.

Some areas of south Kolkata seem to have become the new virus hotspots in the metropolis. “A large number of cases have been recorded in boroughs 7, 8, 9, 10 and 12, among which wards 108, 107, 93, 98 and 69 look the most affected so far” said a KMC official.

Last updated on 15.07.22, 08:31 PM

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