On January 27 last year, India reported the first Covid-19 positive case in Kerala. Eighteen months and two savage runs of the virus later, apprehension is rife that the third wave might raise its ominous head from this state. This is the time when all governments must prepare for such a dreadful eventuality and put its healthcare infrastructure in top gear.
Expert bodies such as the Indian Council of Medical Research have said that the third wave is both inevitable and imminent and has said mass gatherings such as pilgrimages and religious functions can wait. To prevent a rapid outbreak like the second wave in April, governments must be extremely cautious in dropping restrictions in different states and allowing mass transport and gatherings.
The healthcare infrastructure should be prepared to meet any eventuality and catastrophes such as the oxygen crisis that the country suffered during the second wave cannot be repeated under any circumstance. Apart from regular hospitals, governments must keep makeshift arrangements for accommodation of patients and suspects ready.
The Centre should pull out all stops and step on the gas to boost the vaccination drive that has witnessed daily jab numbers drop significantly to about 50% levels after touching 85 lakh mark on June 21.
There is a lot that individuals and families, too, need to follow. First, they just cannot afford to drop their guard against the infection and relax of distancing and sanitisation protocols. The mask must be turned into an essential accessory. Second, they should desist going to crowded places for vacations. Third, if the third wave strikes, it is again likely to have another round of impact on employment and income levels. Small businesses, too, are likely to be affected again. Therefore, they must build an emergency fund to see them through the rainy days. If they have already built a corpus, it is time to fortify it and not spend from it under the false impression that the second wave has passed and the pandemic is behind us.
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