Take pre-emptive steps against Omicron

India is now in the grip of the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic, with active cases crossing the one-lakh mark and the daily new infections hovering over 30,000. The new year has brought in its wake a sense of anxiety and trepidation because the trend in daily case numbers is worse than what it was a year ago. The Omicron variant is causing a surge in the country. But the good part is that no country in which Omicron is currently rampaging has seen a significant rise in the Covid death rate. On this count, there is a reason for cautious optimism. Moreover, over 60 percent of the country’s adult population is now fully vaccinated and the states are better equipped to handle health emergencies.

An estimated 74 million children in the 15-18 age group are also eligible for vaccination now. Since vaccines are the best weapon to fight the virus, there is a need to ramp up inoculation, so that the entire population can be covered as quickly as possible. India has already missed the December-end target of covering the entire population. In Arunachal, the health department has set an ambitious target of administering the first dose of Covaxin to children in the 15-18 age group within the next 10 days. If the target is achieved, it is going to massively helpful in the fight against Covid. While lockdowns and curfews are no answer at this stage to deal with the spread of the new variant, Covid-appropriate public behaviour – wearing masks, maintaining social distance, and avoiding mass gatherings – must be enforced at all costs. Even though vaccination coverage is good in the above 18 categories, the state government and the people of the state cannot afford to take Covid lightly. The state government should continue to impress upon maintaining Covid-appropriate behaviour. Also, the government should ban large gatherings across Arunachal Pradesh as soon as possible.