Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Covid not over yet!

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.Schools mandate masks
.Doctors caution against reusing old masks
.High-level meeting today on preparedness

NAVEENA GHANATE
Hyderabad

At least four cases of the Omicron sub-variant BF.7 — the Covid strain currently behind the upsurge in China’s cases — have been detected in India so far. Union Health Minister Dr Mansukh Mandaviya has declared that Covid is not over yet. 

City-based doctors and schools are calling for preparedness. Several schools in the city have started mandating the wearing of masks. The Telangana government is likely to hold a meeting on Thursday on Covid preparedness. Two cases have been reported from Gujarat, two from Odisha, in which the BF.7 variant has been detected.The sudden lifting of Covid restrictions in China after December 7th, in response to protests against the zero tolerance Covid policy, led to massive increase in Covid numbers.

The variants in circulation in China are Omicron sub variants – mostly BF7; which is a sub-variant of BA5 (BA 5.2.1.7). This variant has already been spotted in several countries, including the US, the UK and European nations such as Belgium, Germany, France and Denmark. It spreads alarmingly fast (R0 > 10) and escapes immunity.

Dr. Mukharjee Madivada, senior interventional cardiologist and Managing Director of Pulse Heart Center, Hyderabad, said: ” BF7 died in the UK and other countries. It most likely cannot cause severe disease in the countries already affected by Omicron. India is one. India can get affected by the Chinese explosion of cases, but not directly. The Chinese catastrophe can affect global supply chains and API supplies for Indian pharmaceutical industry can become expensive.”

Doctors caution people that they should not use the same mask again and that even government hospitals are well-equipped. Dr Nalini G, Assistant Professor, Government General and Chest Hospital, said: “Follow the universal precautions- get vaccinated and wear masks. Don’t get scared with the news. We have faced this before. Prevention is better than cure. We are better experienced and equipped so people need not panic.

Government hospitals have oxygen supply, ventilators, and upgraded beds. People who are not vaccinated, please get vaccinated. Don’t reuse the same old mask. Maintain mask hygiene. Slightest symptoms isolate, to avoid contact follow precautions”.

Meanwhile, there are other ways India can be affected. Dr Mukharjee added: “The second way that India can get affected is by the emergence of a new variant due to unmitigated spread of Covid in China. The new variant may not be as benign as Omicron.

The global players should come out strongly in support of China. What China needs is a huge supply of the bivalent vaccines which are effective against the BA5 variant. This can prevent mortality in China and may curb infections to a certain extent. Remember, it is a global village. China may not be our closest allay at the moment, but it needs all the help the world can give it because the world will suffer if China suffers”.

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