The rapid third wave

Hospitalisations may be less as of now, but the surge in infections is alarming

A month after witnessing the lowest daily tallies ever since the peak of the second wave, the State is now in the midst of another wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The third wave has put the healthcare and frontline worker on toes again.

According to the Health Department’s bed availability report, as of January 21 morning, 369 patients were in the ICU, 1,377 were admitted to general wards with oxygen supply, 409 on general beds and 14 were being treated on paediatric beds with oxygen supply.

Though the burden on the healthcare system due to hospitalisation was not as much as it was in the first and second waves, as of now the rapidly rising incidence of infections is alarming.

Healthcare workers including doctors, nurses and paramedical staff and frontline workers like police and sanitation staff in the government departments are at high risk of contracting the virus, as the Omicron variant is highly transmissible than the previous variants.

One safety measure they have in the fight against the COVID-19 is the ‘precaution dose’ being given as a booster dose of the vaccine. However, not all are eligible to receive the precaution dose as one needs to take it only after at least 39 weeks from receiving the second dose.

The government has started providing the precaution dose from January 10 and a majority of the eligible frontline and healthcare workers have received it at their workplaces.

Teachers wary

Teachers and lecturers are also at great risk of contracting the virus as educational institutions are functioning despite the rapid spread of the virus. "It is concerning that the government decided to run schools despite the COVID situation in the State. Though we are currently in a better position than neighbouring States as far as COVID-19 surge is concerned rise but it is necessary to be proactive and avoid worse situations in the future. It is near impossible to make schoolchildren take all the precautions all the day while in classrooms," says a government school teacher on the condition of anonymity.

Several school teachers in addition to frontline and healthcare workers have already caught the virus following the rapid spread since the first week of January across the State.

Visakhapatnam and Chittoor districts have been witnessing thousands of fresh cases daily from the past several days.

The fresh wave of the infections has also become a cause of concern for the public in general and those working in shops and establishments in particular.

"We are being extra cautious this time. From the experience it has become clear that COVID can be put at bay by taking all necessary precautions. However, people are not wary of the virus any more and are taking it as a normal seasonal disease," says A. Kripanand, a mobile store manager.

Meanwhile, the health department has restarted COVID care centres to avoid burdening of hospitals as in most of the cases COVID patients show mild symptoms.

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