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Are we officially in the Endemic Phase?

24 Jan,2022 09:10 PM, by: Pooja Dasgupta
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The latest trend in Assam seems to be that of the seasonal flu. Chances are, you are among the common lot, who have been surrounded by people with stuffy noses and sore throats. But at the same time, several people are also testing positive to COVID-19 with similar symptoms. As much as we would like to think of it as just another flu case, the rising number of COVID cases complicates things.

In just a matter of two weeks, i.e. from Jan 10- Jan 23, Assam has reported more than 66000 positive cases of COVID-19, with 14 deaths registered during the time frame. Unlike last time, the restrictions imposed in light of the omicron variant and surging cases, seem pretty much non-existent. Also, people testing positive for COVID-19 with mild symptoms can apparently end their isolation from the next day of testing negative; as opposed to the 1 week extended isolation during the previous phases. 

Reasons behind loosening of restrictions

Almost half of India’s population (49.6%) have received full vaccination. This has enabled the majority of the people to stay protected from the adverse effects of the virus, despite testing positive. Compared to last year, fewer people are getting admitted due to COVID-19 during the Omicron surge. Therefore, on the brighter side, hospital beds and oxygen facilities aren’t short in supply. 

Contrary to the severity of the Delta variant, the Omicron variant has till now led to significantly fewer complications. And the overall severity of those affected has been reportedly minimal. 

Healthcare experts and people all over are now anticipating fewer adversity due to COVID-19 in the days to come, thereby entering into an endemic phase. Although the data so far is in favour of declining severity, there is another unspoken yet strongly valid factor that has played a crucial role in loosening the COVID restrictions in the state - loss of economy in the last two years. 

Loss of jobs, pay cuts, and shutting of businesses due to past lockdowns have gravely impacted the economy and the income of several households. It only seems justified to cut back on relaxations now, as we have entered the third leg of the outbreak with reportedly fewer complications so far. 

Are we out of the woods?

The heart wants to agree that the worst has passed and the downfall of COVID-19 has begun. However, the mind cannot forget the sudden spike in death tolls during the second wave; this was shortly after we thought we left COVID-19 behind in 2020 for good.

A total of 483,178 deaths have been reported so far in India in the COVID-19 pandemic since 2020. Out of the lot, nearly 71% of deaths are estimated to be during the second wave of Delta variant last year in 2021 (April - June). We all have remained silent spectators to how it all unfolded - lack of oxygen supply, shortage of hospital beds, and if that wasn’t enough, there were not enough resources to perform the last rites of the victims on time. 

Surely, the situation has improved considerably since then with the rise in the number of vaccinated people and fewer complications. But if the unprecedented past has taught us anything, it is to not claim victory just yet.

At present, the rate of socialising and unmindful violations of COVID guidelines in public spaces carry a high risk of turning fatal for many. The truth is, science cannot predict how many more variants may emerge from the COVID-19. And if we are to encounter any other deadly variant at this phase, the adversity rate may again get out of our control. 

There is a reason why the COVID-19 guidelines are still mandated and masks are still very important for people in public spaces. After all, complete victory can only be achieved, when all of us become accountable for it. On that note, we urge everyone to continue wearing their masks in public and limit social plans as much as possible. If you think about it, living the present abiding by the guidelines will earn us a lifetime of pandemic-free days in the future. 

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Critical Script or its editor.

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