The advent of Omicron
IFP Editorial: As Omicron moves through the population, hitting older people and people with underlying conditions like diabetes and obesity, it may turn out to be a different story.
Updated on 30 Nov 2021, 8:36 am
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the heavily mutated Omicron coronavirus variant is likely to spread internationally and poses a very high risk of infection surges that could have severe consequences in some places. Although no Omicron-linked deaths had yet been reported so far, further research was needed to assess its potential to escape protection against immunity induced by vaccines and previous infections, the WHO report added. In anticipation of increased case numbers as the variant, first reported last week, spreads, the UN agency urged its 194 member states to accelerate vaccination of high-priority groups and ensure plans were in place to maintain health services. It said, Omicron has an unprecedented number of spike mutations, some of which are concerning for their potential impact on the trajectory of the pandemic. In the wake of these warnings, India and the rest of the world are ramping up their defences against Omicron. The big question now is whether Omicron causes severe illness.
The indications of how seriously we should take the virus will come over the next couple of weeks as doctors and scientists wait for reports of any significant rise in hospitalisations. So far, the early signs are reassuring but not definitive. The mainly younger people who have come down with the virus in South Africa have suffered mild symptoms and most of them were unvaccinated. But young people normally tend to have lighter Covid-19 cases. As Omicron moves through the population, hitting older people and people with underlying conditions like diabetes and obesity, it may turn out to be a different story.
Prime Minister NarendraModi in his Maan Ki Baat address on Sunday said that the country has to take necessary measures to protect citizens by following Covid appropriate behaviour. Although the daily number of positive figures had come down drastically, we must get used to the idea that Corona would be with us for some time to come.He said, never forget that corona has not gone yet. So it is the responsibility of everyone to take all precautions.
The Health Ministry has told states to carry out intensive containment measures and undertake active surveillance to ensure mask-wearing and social distancing as well step-up vaccination coverage. To sum up, we cannot afford to be complacent by the fact that daily positivity figures or percentages are coming down and that till the virus and its various variants are vanished from the face of the earth we have to be on our guard.
Manipur’s figures have been coming down in recent months and as of Sunday the percentage of positive numbers is 1.4 pc of the 1218 persons tested and the positivity number has been under 5 pc for quite some time. The cumulative number of tests carried out in the state is so far 14,16,737 of which 1,25,169 were found positive. But, these includes repeat tests for people who had to travel outside or otherwise. And in the last few weeks, the number of tests carried out per day has significantly come down to 1000-2000. Well now, we have to talk about the preparedness of the state with regard to fresh onslaught of a new Covid wave that too of a new dangerous variant.
As the state continues to register low number of positive figures and a dip in percentage, the State Disaster Management Authority has already begun the Unlock process and the three Main markets in Khwairamband Keithel have been allowed to conduct business on rooster basis while shops and establishments in both Paona Bazar and Thangal are conducting business. Banks are back to normal. Surprisingly, even with the opening of the main market we are now witnessing a substantial increase in the number of street vendors on the peripheral roads of the Core Bazar area.
This increase is a direct fallout of the pandemic and its restrictions, and it must be viewed as a humanitarian crisis. Well, traffic congestion on these roads have worsened with the advent of this new crop of street vendors. But, one must learn to deal with them with a humane approach and regulate them in such a way that they continue to hawk their wares while also ensuring smooth traffic flow. On the other hand, we must ensure that Covid appropriate behaviour is strictly followed.