By now it has been conclusively established that Covid-19 is an inscrutable and eccentric novel coronavirus and we have not yet been able to put a pattern on its behaviour. Its ability to lie dormant without being eradicated can be seen from the fact that no sooner does a specific community believe the worst to be over, new clusters break out to cause renewed concern. The virus has also shown itself to be capable of adapting to different conditions and mutating into different forms and scientists fear that not only are the new variants more infectious, they might also prove to be less susceptible to neutralization by antibodies. Over a year has passed since the virus was first detected in Wuhan city in China, but far from humanity being able to get a grip on it, Covid-19 rages on unabated across the globe, with 111,952,175 infected and 2,477,781 dead at the time of writing. Yet much of the world seems to be overtaken by ‘Covid fatigue’, and people are dropping their guards and ceasing from obeying the protocol laid down by epidemiologists. In a developing nation like India, of course, the negligence is as much due to compulsion as carelessness, since a bulk of the population lead a hand-to-mouth existence and have to work in order to survive, despite the reality that the pandemic is far from over.
The outcome has been predictable – at least five States, Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, are witnessing a spike in Covid-19 cases, giving rise to the fear that another wave is in the offing in the nation. The situation is particularly dire in Maharashtra, and the State Government has had to reimpose strict restrictions in five districts, Amravati, Akola, Yavatmal, Buldana and Washim, with a ‘partial lockdown’ in two of them. Equally worrisome is that people in India have tested positive for the UK, South African and the Brazilian variants and scientists fear that the country might be now hosting its own indigenous types of variants. Even a State like Assam, which had witnessed a drop in number of new Covid-19 cases, cannot quite declare itself completely pandemic free, as testified to by the detection of infection among teachers of a prominent school located in the heart of Guwahati. Thus more than ever there is a need to shrug off the complacency that seems to have set in among the public and at least follow some of the recommended measures, such as wearing a mask and maintaining social distance. One must acknowledge that, with the commencement of a mass inoculation drive in the country, the end of the Covid-19 tunnel is in sight. Sensible behaviour coupled with patience might assist in reducing the number of cases and deaths between now and the foreseeable end of the pandemic.