Facing the Third Wave of Covid: Preparedness
The unprecedented COVID pandemic is challenging everyone in a way one could never have imagined. The sudden change in lifestyle along with uncertainty regarding the next wave is keeping everyone on edge. In the coming few months, the country is expected to witness a third wave. The severity & outcome of the coming wave will depend on the extent of the lockdown across states, rate of vaccine rollout & self-awareness & behavior of the individuals in terms of maintaining distance, wearing masks in public, regularly washing hands, avoiding crowded places, ensuring free flow of fresh air and meeting people in open spaces, etc. In addition to these measures, there are various steps one can take in preparing a firewall against the next wave.
1. Positive Thinking through meditation, yoga
The current health crisis is a testing time. Stress & anxiety are taking a toll on the human mind and body. In order to survive through the pandemic, mentally & physically, positive thinking in the form of mediation, prayers, chanting etc. at an individual or collective level can go a long way. Exercise capsules must be promoted to build lung capacity. Yoga experts must come together to deliver such modules via online platforms.
2. Creating a Positive Ecosystem
During lockdown, people are using social media platforms to gain information about COVID-19. The nature of social media has played a key role in spreading anxiety about the COVID-19 outbreak across countries. Media outlets must also showcase the great effort carried out by the government authorities in achieving their vaccination goal. Focus must also be extended towards the health workers who are the frontline soldiers in this war. A sense of hope and a positive ecosystem is very much necessary to uplift citizens and keep them moving.
3. Building resources for Ayurvedic (Medicines, Kada, Giloy) and Allopathic remedies
Though the average number of daily cases has fallen, the sizable susceptible population of India is still under threat. During the first wave, the virus was not spreading that rapidly. This changed drastically in case of the second wave, which saw the virus become much more infectious. The next wave is expected to hit those who are yet to be vaccinated, especially children. There needs to be an aggressive surveillance strategy in Covid hotspots. To help build immunity, free health treatment must be extended to poor people and free distribution of ayurvedic medicines that build immunity should be considered.
The level of preparedness must be such that no person is denied treatment facilities. Work needs to be done to install new oxygen plants on a war footing. Efforts should be made to connect various medical institutions in the country and abroad in providing online medical guidance. More oxygen beds must be made available in government and private sector hospitals across every state, a lesson we learnt from the second wave. Arrangements for availability of medicines for black fungus are required. Facilities for post-covid lung transplant in extreme cases are generally concentrated in Chennai and Hyderabad while in North India, there is none. The experience of the second wave shows that desperate people can dump dead bodies in rivers and river beds: hence the need for more mortuary space as well as cremation grounds must be created and made available.
4. Positive Political Discourse
The need for healthy debate is important, as consistent feedback and constructive criticism can be used for redefining policy measures. The government, too, is duty-bound to address citizens & oppositions’ concerns. But this must not turn into an issue of political contestation. Given the national level of emergency, it is important for everyone to work together.
5. National Policy
There is a need to have a national policy with elements of hotlines to help, ambulance services, medical assistance, tele-medicine facilities and centralised information systems like FAQs in different languages, explaining the facts about the diseases. The national policy will help in standardising the protocol and inspire confidence that medical help is available and that the Government is accessible. As local bodies are most close to the people, their services should be extensively used in educating the people about the disease and the facilities provided by the Government.