Is The Nightmarish COVID-19 Second Wave In India Ending Soon?


In the first week of May 2021 the new daily COVID-19 infections breached the 4-Lakh (four hundred thousand) mark which added to the scare and the macabre dance of death witnessed all across India. The country’s health infra, stretched to impossible limits, was crumbling with the shortages of beds/ICU beds, ventilators and the supply of the life-saving medical oxygen. People were dying due much more to the lack of oxygen than COVID complications, particularly in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. Maharashtra that suffered the most in terms of all the numbers was in fact the only Indian state to have done adequate advance planning of stocking up oxygen and no patient died there due to lack of oxygen, whereas the neighboring state of Goa was going through hell. Some irresponsible experts didn’t help matters much at this crucial juncture by predicting that India would breach the 5-Lakh or the 6 or 7 or even the 10-Lakh daily cases numbers in the coming days, and that about a million people were fated to die.

 

Perhaps God intervened during that utterly helpless period. We say this because the government of India had been doing precious little except for continuing with its denial mode about all shortages/hardships—let it be of oxygen or of the vaccines, and of course, its politics of elections or of religion or of confrontation with the states. It did not even bother to consider imposing a national lockdown or consider anew the persistent demands to transfer cash to the migrating and jobless workers. Whatever was finally done to arrest the pandemic in terms of lockdowns, partial lockdowns or strict curbs, had actually been executed by the states.

 

As per data available till now, the daily new case load of just over 4-Lakh has seemed to be proved the second peak of the second wave, for immediately afterwards the daily cases of infections started showing a declining trend: below 4-Lakh, then below 3-Lakh and then below 2-Lakh with the new cases added in the last 24 hours to the tune of 1, 65,553. Unfortunately though, the daily cases of deaths across the nation didn’t immediately show the peak as the depressing figures kept on rising, breaching the 4000-mark a day. This also brings to light the alleged under-reporting of fatality figures. This can be elucidated by simply pointing out that when the situation was going out of control and that there were reports of unprecedented overcrowding at the crematoriums, the official death figures were well below 4000 daily; and after the second peak was reached in early May, the death figures in fact started to rise well above the 4000 mark, with no similar reports about the rush for cremation/burials except for the floating bodies in River Ganga.  How many thousands of Indians have actually perished during mid-April to early-May 2021 is too horrendous even for a guess.

 

At the moment, Delhi and Mumbai are looking at some sort of unlocking in the coming days with the positivity rates falling below 5% for both the metros; while, most other states are not willing to take any further risk, deciding to continue with lockdowns for the next few days. The state of West Bengal that saw a terrifyingly high positivity rate of over 30% had imposed near-complete lockdown from the 16th of May to 30th of May which is further extended to June 15, 2021. The state’s positivity rate has fortunately come down and is around 18% at the moment. Two severe cyclones, Tauktae and Yaas, have also challenged the pandemic fight in Maharashtra and West Bengal respectively this month, and in the latter’s case politics of confrontation assumed greater importance than the challenges. Thanks to a series of actions by the central government including that of the vaccine strategy has tremendously diluted the federal structure of the country, and it’d need somebody’s immediate wisdom to set it right. People are also getting very articulate about a possible Third Wave in about 6-8 months; however, it is hardly clear as to why nobody bothered to express concern about an apparently more monstrous Second Wave.

 

We cannot avoid making a comment on another ‘indispensable’ eventuality in the Indian context which is the IPL, coming to rule the roost again. After it was suspended last month due to the raging pandemic second wave, talks are almost finalized now about its remainder part to be held in the UAE again during September-October this year. Well, IPL must always be there, come what may.

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