Even as India on Monday reported the lowest single-day Covid tally in 680 days, with only 2,503 new cases in the last 24 hours, doctors caution against being complacent as the virus is seeing a resurgence in many countries in Europe and Asia.
Although many countries across the globe have relaxed Covid-related norms, including the use of masks and Covid surveillance, scientists, including the World Health Organisation (WHO) have been warning of the possibility of another global surge.
India has also relaxed several norms including opening up of schools, workplaces, airports, etc. Government guidelines on the use of masks continue, but it is hardly followed on the ground.
“It is prudent to not pursue a zero Covid policy, and therefore accept that there will be surges periodically, especially with the onset of newer variants,” Dr. Lancelot Pinto, Consultant Pulmonologist, P.D Hinduja Hospital & MRC, Mahim, Mumbai, told IANS.
Data from Johns Hopkins University has shown that the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy have seen an upswing in cases this past week, USA Today reported. China is also facing its severest domestic Covid-19 outbreaks in two years, the Global Times reported.
There has been a sharp rise in the number of asymptomatic patients, forcing several major cities to go into lockdowns.
Further, South Korea, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand are also seeing a record surge in Covid cases.
So can this wave spread to India, leading to a fourth wave?
“There is no doubt that Covid can happen again in India and the spike can reappear in the next couple of months. We really cannot be complacent in whatever we are doing,” said Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, Senior Consultant Internal Medicine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals.
A non peer-reviewed research by IIT Kanpur, had earlier, using a statistical model predicted that India will see a fourth wave of the pandemic that may start around mid June and peak from mid to late August this year.
“A majority of the surges across the world at present are being caused by the BA.2 variant of Omicron, and most of the infections caused still appear to be of a mild nature. As long as this continues to be true, we need to learn to live with SARS-CoV-2,” Pinto said.
However, it is very difficult to predict the severity of a new wave “because right now, most of the people in the world have gained their antibodies and immunity against this virus”, Dr. Avi Kumar, Consultant – Pulmonology, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, told IANS.
Kumar noted that since the pandemic is continuously changing its size and severity, it is very difficult to predict the fourth wave “but yes we have to keep ourselves guarded”.
The experts urged the government to try and limit economic disruptions as much as possible in the wake of a new wave, while also ensuring that the vulnerable and the old are protected by measures such as vaccinations and boosters, based on sound scientific evidence.
“More attention to ventilation of indoor spaces, as this is going to be a critical determinant of spread in the future,” Pinto said.