BENGALURU: People shouldn’t let their guard down even when a vaccine is available, as it is human behaviour which mainly contributes to a spike in Covid-19 cases. The next 45 days are crucial as there is a possibility of a second wave in early 2021, say experts on Karnataka’s Covid Taskforce.
“Human behaviour is the major contributing factor. People seem to be lowering their guard with announcement of a vaccine, and the fact that cases are coming down. This is dangerous,” said Dr Nagaraja C, Director, Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases, and member of the Taskforce.
Containing the spread of the disease depends not just on the state’s preparedness to handle it, but also on how diligently individuals follow precautions such as hand washing, physical distancing and wearing masks, Dr Nagaraja said.
A senior epidemiologist said that the relationship between these precautions and Covid-19 is clear: In areas where fewer people wear masks and more people gather indoors to eat, drink, observe religious practices, celebrate and socialise, even within families, cases are on the rise.
“After a flat curve we are now slowly seeing a rise in the number of cases. Winter is extremely conducive for the spread of coronavirus. Other respiratory illnesses like cold and influenza (flu), are more common in the colder months. Since winter is here we should be wary of this,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar has urged people to be extra cautious around December 20 to January 2.
“These days would be the most crucial for us,” he told media after a meeting with the Technical Advisory Committee.
The committee is said to have said in its report that the second wave in other countries occurred between 45-90 days after the initial surge receded. If this pattern holds true, a second wave is imminent in Karnataka, based on the trajectory of cases in the state, the report said.
Dr C N Manjunath, state nodal officer for testing, said that testing should not decline.
“People should be very responsible now. Many public events can be super spreader gatherings and should be avoided. Also, the number of tests should not come down,” he said.
However, many public health experts say that the state is now equipped with infrastructure - public and private - and experience to tackle a surge in cases.
“We are prepared. Handling a surge in cases now won’t be as much of a problem as it was during early days. We have staff, equipment, ventilators, beds... Everything that’s needed for Covid care. Our contact tracing team is also doing a good job and we are isolating people as soon as test results come out positive,” Dr Nagaraja said.
While the first case in Karnataka was detected on March 8, the state saw its worst period in July and September, when around 10,000 people were contracting the disease each day on average.
The numbers are currently below 1,500 a day.