Covid far from over, keep wearing masks: Health experts

New Delhi, Feb 22 (IANS): As people in different parts of the country have started taking Covid precautions lightly with many seen not wearing masks or forgetting them at home while venturing out, health experts have warned that the pandemic is far from over, especially in view of the emerging new strains and chances of reinfection.

After a significant decline, Covid-19 cases surged again in India in the past week, recording a rise for the first time in 15 weeks amid the vaccination drive which is in its first phase.

"It is quite clear that the pandemic hasn't ended and that we need to continue following the safety measures," Manoj Goel, Director, pulmonology, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram, told IANS.

"Social distancing, wearing of masks and using sanitisers are being ignored on the pretext that the pandemic has ended. This is not the case and vigilance needs to be practiced," Goel stressed.

On Sunday, the number of Covid-19 cases in India crossed 11 million. The rise in cases has especially become a cause for concern in states like Kerala and Maharashtra, which have imposed fresh restrictions.

There are around 58,000 active Covid cases in Kerala. Karnataka is also taking new measures as active Covid cases in the state crossed the 6,000-mark again, with 413 persons testing positive in a day, according to the state health bulletin on Sunday.

"There are two possibilities of rise in cases right now -- the cases can be that of the new strain and the cases of reinfection. Reinfection cases can be a prominent cause as the immunity from previous infection stays just for three months," said Parinita Kaur, Consultant, internal medicine, Aakash Healthcare, New Delhi.

"As far as Maharashtra and Kerala are concerned, cases have been rising there... Delhi has not seen such rise as of now, but we should be prepared for the various strains that have come up," Kaur added.

However, the doctors have said that it is not clear if the recent surge has anything to do with the change in weather.

"The change of season is always favourable for any kind of virus and this is a new virus that has been mutating constantly," Kaur said.

"We haven't seen any effect of winter season or summer season either on its virulence or mutation. When we talk about last year, the cases surged irrespective of the seasonal conditions," she added.

"The resurgence is probably happening due to either a mutant strain of the virus or perhaps due to the fact that precautions have decreased and people have started taking them lightly," said Archana Dhawan Bajaj, gynecologists, obstetrician and IVF expert, Nurture IVF Centre, New Delhi.



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