Bengaluru: Experts warn crowds could fuel fresh surge | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: With the pandemic-induced lockdown being largely lifted and most public places now open for visitors, concerns are being raised over a possible increase in the number of fresh Covid-19 cases, especially given fatigue over following Covid appropriate behaviour.
On the possibility of infections increasing, Dr V Ravi, virologist, and member of the state’s Covid technical advisory committee, said: “It all depends on how responsibly people behave, how fast we improve vaccine coverage and the emergence of new variants.”
While the emergence of new variants is not in anybody’s control, emphasis must be on vaccinations and following Covid-appropriate behaviour, he said. Dr Ravi believes it will take three to five months for a fresh surge after one wave has subsided.
“We have to keep track of test positivity rates and the seven-day moving average and impose a clampdown and containment measures immediately cases begin to show signs of rising [to avoid the kind of surge the occurred during the second wave]. Whenever the test positivity rate doubles in a place, there must be a clampdown and an investigation conducted,” Dr Ravi said.
He said authorities should not wait until the seven-day positivity rate becomes 5%, and instead impose restrictions when the test positivity rate doubles, say from 1% to 2%.
It may be recalled that, after the lockdown was relaxed last year, there was a surge in cases in July 2020, and another week of restrictions were imposed again in Bengaluru. However, compared to last year’s experiences, vaccination coverage, which began in January 2021, will make a difference, experts say.
“Last year, we did not have the advantage offered by the vaccine. With nearly half of the eligible population getting at least one dose in Bengaluru, we are in a much better position,” says Dr Giridhara R Babu, epidemiologist and TAC member.
Less deadly third wave

Dr Babu says it’s unlikely cases will surge this month itself unless more contagious variants of concern come into picture — a remote possibility. By increasing the speed and population of vaccination coverage, the peak of cases in the next wave, expected around October-November this year, can be reduced drastically, he feels.
Crowding anywhere remains a matter of concern, Dr Babu said, insisting that besides a slower vaccination drive, a third wave could be triggered earlier than expected if it is facilitated by superspreader events such as congregations, crowds in closed spaces or close-contact settings, especially with non-compliance of Covid-appropriate behaviour.
Dr CN Manjunath, nodal officer for testing, said ramping up Covid testing is one of the best ways to arrest any spike in cases. “The general public must behave responsibly and avoid unnecessary travel. Visiting hometowns and villages during festivals will be a concern and people must avoid such trips. A series of festivals are around the corner, beginning August and going all the way to October,” he said.
When contacted, D Randeep, special commissioner, health, BBMP, says that the Palike continues to conduct nearly 65,000 Covid tests a day and the containment strategy continues without any change. He says Covid-appropriate behaviour and mask compliance is a must and marshals on the ground are enforcing the rules.
“Epidemiologists have been directed to focus on any cluster if it emerges. We have the data of wards that acted as triggers for the second wave. We are in the early stages of lockdown release and we have to closely watch,” Randeep said. The only cluster seen recently in Bengaluru was at an army campus in Yelahanka, he added.

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Sagar Biswas

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