New Delhi: The next few days are being seen as crucial as a rise in Covid-19 infections is expected due to increased social interactions around Diwali, experts said.
It is still not the right time to declare victory over the pandemic as the virus is still causing infections, they said.
“I don’t think much will happen in India but there are too many new variants circulating to declare victory,” said Anurag Agrawal, former head of the Insacog laboratory consortium and chair of the World Health Organization‘s (WHO’s) Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution.
The pandemic is technically not over while the virus is in active transmission, he said. “Singapore, for example, is again seeing a rise in hospitalisations, almost only old people, but still. We can’t say that it is over. Just not of any near-term threat,” Agrawal said. “That (saying the pandemic is over) would be scientifically inaccurate and as far as I see, we are anyway back to normalcy.”
The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (Insacog) held its review meeting on Friday and found that the country is seeing new recombinant variants of Covid-19.
The good thing is that hospitalisation hasn’t increased, said a person in the know who requested not to be identified. “Monitoring is the key and India must keep a strict vigil on the circulating virus,” he said.
India is seeing new Omicron‘s sub-variants like BA.5.1.7 and BF.7, but there is nothing to worry about, he added. “It has not led to any significant increase in the number of cases or hospitalisation.”
Delhi is witnessing a surge in cases with the test positivity rate jumping over 2% in the last few days. There have been more than 100 fresh cases in the capital for the last few days, as per health bulletin. This, after a significant drop in cases.
Virologist Shahid Jameel of University of Oxford said politically and socially, the pandemic is over for most of the world. However, it’s not over as per WHO definition. “The virus is still causing infections in every WHO administrative region,” he said. Experts expect some increase in cases after Diwali but not any new wave. They expect it to be “manageable”.
“Given the high prevalence of antibody positivity and vaccine coverage, only a slight increase of Covid-19 may occur after the festival,” said a senior doctor who did not want to be identified.