NEW DELHI: With unlocking and utter disregard for COVID-appropriate behaviour among people, a third wave of the pandemic is ‘inevitable’ and is likely to hit the country in the next six to eight weeks, All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) chief Dr Randeep Guleria warned on Saturday.
There is a need to factor in human behaviour while unlocking, he reiterated. It should be done in a graded manner, he told a news channel. While health experts have been warning of a third wave in the wake of widespread violation of COVID norms, especially after lifting or easing of lockdown restrictions by various states, the AIIMS chief has given a specific time for the cases to start surging again.
"We don’t seem to have learnt from what happened between the first and the second waves. Crowds are building... people are gathering. It will take some time for the number of cases to start rising at the national level. Third wave is inevitable and it could hit the country within the next six to eight weeks... may be a little longer," Dr Guleria said.
"It all depends on how we go ahead in terms of Covid-appropriate behaviour and preventing crowds. A new wave can usually take up to three months but it can also take much lesser time, depending on various factors. Apart from COVID-appropriate behaviour, we need to ensure strict surveillance… We know the virus will continue to mutate. Aggressive surveillance in hotspots is required," said the AIIMS chief, adding that the focus should be on 'testing, tracking, and treating'.
He said the country will require mini-lockdowns in areas that witness a spike in cases and positivity rate beyond 5 per cent. Dr Guleria emphasised that people would be vulnerable unless vaccinated.
With the main challenge being immunisation, increasing the gap between Covishield doses "may not be bad", he said. Asked if there was a need to rethink the decision, he said: "Nothing is written in stone. We will have to look at new strategies."