Flouting of protocols during electioneering
R Dutta Choudhury
GUWAHATI, March 29: The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is apprehensive that Assam may face a spike in COVID- 19 cases after the elections to the State Assembly as huge political gatherings were seen. Meanwhile, the ICMR has also appealed to all citizens to take the COVID vaccines whenever their turn comes to reduce the spread of the disease and asserted that there is no shortage of vaccines in the country.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, Director of the ICMR, Dr Rajni Kant admitted that the surge of the disease in some parts of the country is a disturbing fact and people should be careful to check the spread of COVID -19. Replying to a question, he admitted that large political gatherings for the State Assembly polls may turn out to be a risky proposition as majority of the people attending the gatherings are not maintaining the COVID protocols like wearing masks, social distancing etc. He admitted that Assam may face a spike in the number of cases after the elections and the State administration should be prepared to deal with it.
The ICMR Director said that the administration should be strict on the people not maintaining COVID protocols even during the election rallies. He pointed out that simple measures like wearing masks covering nose and mouth, maintaining social distancing and following hand hygiene norms would be able to control the spread of the disease. In a large gathering, if one person is infected, he or she can infect many more and the disease can spread fast, he pointed out.
Commenting on the spread of the disease in a few states in recent times, he said that the matter is disturbing. He said that majority of the new cases are reported from only three or four states with Maharashtra being the worst hit in the second wave of the pandemic. He expressed the view that this happened because the people became complacent and stopped following the COVID safety norms. Moreover, people started celebrating festivals freely without realizing that such behaviour on their part can lead to the spread of COVID- 19.
Dr Kant said that the Central Government can only issue broad guidelines to the states to deal with the problem. But it is up to the State governments to take pro-active measures depending on the local condition.
On the vaccination process, Dr Kant said that there is no shortage of vaccines and all eligible persons should take vaccines as early as possible. He admitted that no vaccine can provide hundred per cent protection from any disease, but even if a vaccinated person is infected, it is very likely that the complications would be much less. He said that up to this morning, more than six crore persons have been vaccinated. In Assam, 10, 04,224 persons have been vaccinated till last evening, of which 8, 70,902 persons received the first dose and the rest received the second dose. Dr Kant admitted that it would take two to three years to vaccinate all the citizens in a country like India but the process is progressing well and people should cooperate with the Government and come forward to take vaccines.