Don’t let Covid Back In

Listen to this article

Don’t let Covid Back In

By Prof. Vikram Soni

Dehradun, Dec 11

The fourth wave of the Covid  is pounding Europe now.  It is incredible that  such exalted countries have not  managed to contain it after the huge casualties from the earlier three waves.

But there is a new alarm call – which is yet to be fathomed but is causing worldwide mayhem.  A   highly infectious mutation of Covid , Omicron , which carries an unusually large number of potentially dangerous variations is the  new scourge. Since we are mostly ignorant of its understanding or implications,  it is positively important to stop its spread. Already over thirty countries have reported cases of Omicorn and the list will only grow .

There is only one way to stop the pandemic  and that is to isolate and quarantine any cases  of Covid promptly or it will morph into an outbreak. Given the genocidal second wave in India and its huge population with little infrastructure to control it, it  is imperative that  India  close down all but essential  travel not only from Omicorn affected countries but also from Europe and scrupulously monitor its entry points before  another wave of Covid gets through our defences and overwhelms  us. Now is the time for a moratorium on  flights from  Omicron affected countries,  Europe and Russia or any country that has  Covid outbreaks.

Holland, Belgium and Austria are witnessing violent protests against lockdowns though their infection curves and hospitalisations are going up steeply enough to break records. They have to act. Germany has gone from four figures to  almost 70,000 infections a day and the new German Minister for Health Jena Spahen has warned the public about the alarming rate at which the increase is taking place, `We will soon have only three categories of people left, those with Covid, those who survived Covid and those who are dead from Covid.”

An extremely grim warning indeed.  These countries are having to deal with over two million new cases per week and health services are finding it difficult to cope.  Britain has  a high percentage of jabbed population,  but also high infection rates too, yet they have been cavalier in not imposing even masks and social distancing – a grossly optimistic view of the situation, which they may regret. Russia is also going through a full scale pandemic. For India not to  be alarmed and act to strictly regulate traffic from these countries and the rest of Europe  would simply be an invitation for Covid.

Though the Government has announced  measures to monitor all incoming international travellers and impose a quarantine on them the protocol is not working effectively.  There is chaos at all international airports in the country as all passengers have to wait upto  8 hours  to get their Covid results and there is huge over crowding at the airport making it a perfect  hotspot for the virus to become a superspreader. It is clear that we were not prepared for this.  But one way to handle it , for example in Delhi,  is to mobilise the hotels in the Aerocity and   immediately bundle off all passenger  to them  and clear the airport.   They can accommodated in  the halls and even rooms  while they await their results . Those found positive must  quarantine for two weeks at the hotels.  It is of course essential that masks and physical distancing be rigouously imposed.

The quarantine regime  at present is  very leaky – especially home quarantine can be easily violated with domestic staff and others moving in and out.  Delhi and Mumbai have over 5000 incoming international travellers coming in every day . To keep track of them in strictly observing  quarantine in not easy. It would require mobilising  a huge force which is not available – this is carried out by some kind of young home guards who are not professional. Thus, at the moment there is no organised dispensation and  it is clear that in the absence of a stringent regime the virus  will likely defeat these efforts.

Let’s recall how Covid came to India. We cannot forget that  the Covid virus was first reported on January 30 2020 in three Kerala towns. It was found among three Indian medical students who had returned from Wuhan the epicenter of the pandemic. Also ,it came from Italian tourists  who  were visiting India after having  been to China and contracted the virus there. And there is the hub. There is no alternative but to exercise extreme caution  and surveillance with people coming into the country so we do not repeat the blunder. And  the authorities must trace down all arrivals into the country. It must also deal with any cases  that arise with urgency and complete vigilance.

At the moment we are sitting comfortably in India with Covid under control . We cannot afford another wave  and as pointed out above our present  strategy of   testing and quarantine is unlikely to hold the  virus that is carried by incoming travellers.   The only way that  is likely to work is to temporarily stop all but essential international  incoming travel from Covid countries.  This is to alert the Government and population that the time to act is running out, so let’s do it before we  let Covid strike again

(Prof Vikram Soni is emeritus professor of physics and ecological wisdom at Jamia Millia Islamia and Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi)

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button
error: Content is protected !!