COVID scare not over yet

Telangana was fortunate that COVID-19 cases did not spike even after people gathered for the recent festivals and the floods laid a trail of destruction. However, the scare is not over yet.

State government officials, healthcare professionals, NGOs and several others are watching the campaigning for the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections with bated breath as thousands of people are coming together for canvassing, leaving nothing to chance. And sometimes, some of them are not even wearing masks. Another factor that can compound the number of cases is the winter season, as viruses survive longer in cold temperatures.

The GHMC elections will be held on December 1.

Citing a second wave of COVID in other states, Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao on Monday appealed to people to wear masks, avoid crowding to the extent possible and maintain other precautions. However, hundreds of workers of all political parties are clearly not maintaining the precautions during rallies.

“Overcrowding during campaigning, not following COVID norms, and cold temperatures might see a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases. Why cannot there be guidelines for campaigning such as restricting the number of people, timing of the campaigning and staggering the move of people?” questioned B.R. Shamanna, professor of the School of Medical Sciences at the University of Hyderabad.

He added that since people consider leaders, who participate in political rallies, to be their role models, the latter can set an example. If poll contestants do not maintain the COVID guidelines, their fans may follow suit.

Government officials, who have expressed apprehensions, said that they are on the watch as more festivals are lined up in the coming months.

Mujtabha Askari, trustee of Helping Hands Foundation, an NGO involved in COVID-19 management, said that the drop in temperatures, disregard to precautions by contestants and their cadre during rallies have the potential for surge. “Doctors who work for our organisation are estimating a rise in December and January,” Mr. Askari said.

Also, healthcare professionals on COVID duty have stressed that more RT-PCR tests have to be conducted to detect more cases. “We should rely less on Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) and more on RT-PCR tests,” said a senior doctor.

Another doctor stressed that COVID peak was recorded earlier in some northern states. “In case of a second peak, it might take some time to record it in southern states,” the doctor said.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2021 12:12:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/covid-scare-not-over-yet/article33180309.ece

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