Single digit cases since the advent of the third wave in Udaipur and across India in the first week of November last year gave an indication that care and vaccination were the two most important tools to resist the strike of COVID once again. However, in less than a week, positive cases of COVID in Udaipur and across major centres in India have shot through the roof, getting the administration, health department as well as the government back to high disaster management mode.
Udaipur was witnessing single digit cases over sixty days from 3 November, when the first two cases got the meter ticking. After the first 2 cases indicating an adhoc situation, the daily positive numbers were either null or in the range of 3-6, with 6 cases being the maximum in the first 60 days. However, the advent of the new year was anything but relief. The positive number touched 9 on 4th January, grew three times to 28 on 5th January and tripled once again to 89 on 6 January. The per day count rocketed to 189 on 7 January and was followed up by 225 today. The number of sample units have not really grown anywhere relative to the positive count, hence the positivity rate has shot up from 0.33% to 10% in the last 5 days.
The state government has been coming up with COVID regulations every two days and the District Collector ordered all schools to cease physical classes for students upto class 8 till 17 January. However, some private schools like Seedling, St Pauls, DPS, etc have taken a proactive approach and ceased offline classes even for the senior students. All classes are being held online once again. With the annual examinations including board examinations just round the corner, what call the central and state education boards take, will be interesting, as there has been a lot of learning with stop gap arrangements, that has affected the entire lost of Class X and XII students of the 2021 batch. With the under 18 vaccination beginning on 3 January, there is hope that things will be under control and students most likely will take the offline examination in normal testing mode, rather than once again resort to multiple choice questions and the like. Hopefully this third wave will not make guinea pigs of the students once again. The challenge in 2020 and 2021 was enough.
When the pandemic attack resumes after a lull, it is called the "Next" Wave. Usually what happens is that when new cases come up with a sudden spurt, the close contacts are next in line and specific areas of the city are identified as being hit by the sudden increase in numbers. However, what is happening in the Third Wave is that while each day is witnessinng more new cases as compared to Close Contact cases, the areas of the city are not restricted to a a specific zone, but across the city. This indicates a massive community spread, especially after the burst of tourists in the last 2 months and then the year end celebrations. Another cause of concern is that increase in positivity rates means that the virus infections is growing faster than the increase in positive cases. A new strain is one of the reasons for such spread. The positivity rate, hence should be seen ideally in conjunction with positive cases, deaths, sampling and hospitalisation.
While the government has indicated that there will be lockdown or curfew situations like the last two sessions of the pandemic strike, it is also hoped that school examinations and necessary travel are not affected. What remains is for the Junta to take a rational approach and minimise gatherings, follow regulations on COVID protocols, and ensure vaccination to make the immunity resilient.