DC Edit | Keep a close watch as Covid cases rise, act with caution

There is enough reason for India to take the daily data on the pandemic seriously, even though it has negotiated three waves of the pandemic

The Union health ministry, in its direction to the Kerala government to update data on the Covid-19 pandemic on a daily basis, has pointed out that “daily and diligent reporting of data is critical to arrive at a meaningful understanding of pandemic in the districts, state and national level and ensure that any anomalies, surge or emerging trends can be captured in a timely manner”. The Union ministry, while pointing out that the delayed reporting by the state “has impacted and skewed the status of India's key monitoring indicators like cases, deaths and positivity”, was rightfully concerned more with the relevance of the data on Covid-19 “as it is a highly infectious disease and also has an associated risk of emergence of new variants".

There is enough reason for India to take the daily data on the pandemic seriously, even though it has negotiated three waves of the pandemic. The number of total new infections crossed 1,000 on Tuesday and several states, including national capital Delhi, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh have shown signs of an uptick in the numbers and test positivity rates. Delhi has reported more than 500 new cases for the second consecutive day on Tuesday against the daily average for seven days of around 300, and has tightened Covid precautions for schools. Uttar Pradesh, after seeing the numbers going up, has made masks compulsory in public places in five districts; Haryana and the Union Territory of Chandigarh have followed suit. An unmistakable point of relief is that there is no significant rise in the number of hospitalisations.

These trends emerge amid a series of reassuring developments that suggested an end to the vice grip of the pandemic on human lives. It was only the other day that the number of daily air passengers crossed four lakhs in India; a US court ordered that masks are no longer mandatory on flights and the Joe Biden administration said it will no longer enforce mask mandate on public transport.

All these developments go on to prove that despite the remarkable achievements humanity has made against the fight against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, there still are weak points and, as the Union health ministry pointed out, need to constantly update and analyse the data to arrive at correct conclusions every day. Every single point on which we have an upper hand against the pandemic has come the hard way, be it vaccines, medicines or the evolution of the treatment protocol. They must be put to use as and when required based on current data, and hence the import of the health ministry missive.

India escaped the third wave of the pandemic basically on the strength of the lessons it has learnt in the first two and the alacrity with which it responded to the new one. The universal vaccination programme which covered a lot of ground also helped us. The governments at the Centre and in the states are required to show the same kind of alertness should we aim to avoid a repeat of the first two waves. Any decision on further relaxing the Covid-19 protocol must be made taking the latest trends in account.

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