SRINAGAR: The JK Government has to take a multi-pronged approach, with multiple actions at a time, on war footing to prevent the severity of the third wave of Covid-19 in Jammu and Kashmir, suggests the Advisory Committee Report for an action plan.
The report has come two weeks after the committee was formed to devise an action plan for a possible Covid-19 third wave. It is headed by former Director of SKIMS, Prof Muhammad Sultan Khuroo.
“Covid third wave could occur within 6 months of the decline of the second wave and calls for intensive surveillance for the period June to Dec 2021,” reads the report, in possession of Kashmir Reader. “Third wave, if it occurs, could be mild, less severe, or more severe based on interplay of virus, variants, and vaccine. Generally speaking, the third wave, if not interrupted, is more severe than the first or second wave.”
As of today, about two-third of the population in the Union territory (both urban and suburban) is susceptible to infection, while the susceptibility of special groups like children and pregnant women is not known, it added.
“A meticulous surveillance protocol to monitor and block COVID third wave has been devised and detailed out. It works around several principles namely Sequencing, Travel advisory policy, Covid appropriate discipline, extended Covid appropriate discipline protocol, serosurveys to evaluate population susceptibility, and aggressive vaccination policy and program. An expert team well-versed with epidemiology and viruses needs to have their heads together weekly to monitor the Covid third wave and raise early alarms in any of the parameters which need attention and/or corrections,” the report reads.
It states that the Covid first wave was “slow, gradual, and had the classical characteristic of involving the elderly and people with co-morbid diseases. Covid second wave was abrupt, steep, and showed a distinct pattern of involving young and middle-aged with no comorbidities, with more severe disease, altered disease pattern, and higher case fatality.”
“The lockdown for the last several weeks had a distinct effect on taming the epidemic faster than it would and needs to have a gradual guarded watchful relaxation to avoid a backlash. Apart from droplet spread of disease, the second wave showed a spread of disease through aerosol phenomenon in a poorly aerated closed environment and superspreader phenomenon within homes. So, Covid’s appropriate policy and advice need to be redrafted with these transmission routes in mind,” it adds.
There are definite clues, it says, that the second wave occurred due to the introduction of 2 variants of concern into the community from north India (UK variant) and other parts of India (Indian variant).
“This happened because we let Covid appropriate discipline for a toss in late 2020 and early 2021 and our inability to enforce travel advisory protocol,” it says.
“The first wave was exclusively caused by the wild strain of the virus and there were no variants in the community in 2020. As of today, around or over 60% of infections are caused by variant strains of the virus, both in Kashmir and Jammu Provinces and have nearly replaced the wild strains. There are indications that the Indian variant may be more prevalent in Jammu than in Kashmir province,” the report says.