Third wave may start if cases keep on rising for two more weeks: Experts
For now, it looks like an expected rise due to social gatherings and crowding because of the festival and year-end celebrations
Mumbai The rise in the average daily cases in Mumbai this month has triggered one question- is it the beginning of the third wave already? Epidemiologists and health experts, who are closely monitoring the situation, said that if the rise continues for another two weeks, then the next wave has begun.
For now, it looks like an expected surge due to social gatherings and crowding because of the festival and year-end celebrations.
“A sustained rise for another two weeks will make it clear if the city has started seeing a fresh wave,” said epidemiologist and health systems expert Dr Chandrakant Lahariya. “If you plot the numbers on a graph, a sustained rise will show an upward curve, which will be an indicator of a wave. At the moment, the city authorities should closely watch the trend,” he said.
Dr Lahariya said that every setting is likely to experience a different trend. For instance, while Mumbai and Delhi have recorded a spurt in cases over the past few days, the cumulative statistics from the country have not shown an upward trend.
The rise in Mumbai’s average daily cases has been concerning. In the first week of December, the city’s average daily cases were 185. The number rose to 212 in the second week (Dec 7-14) and 270 in the third week (Dec 15-21). Worryingly, Mumbai five-day average between December 22 to 26 jumped to 671- a 148% rise compared to the previous week.
“The rise was expected in presence of the highly transmissible Omicron variant,” said epidemiologist Dr Jayaprakash Muliyil, who is also a member of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation in India (NTAGI). “If we start translating these numbers into a graph, it will look like the beginning of a new wave. But we should wait and watch the trend,” he said.
According to Dr Muliyil, what matters is whether the wave is of any consequence. “Globally, the Omicron variant is replacing the Delta variant, but it is causing a mild disease and has not led to an increase in hospitalisations. Given the immunity that Indians have with the exposure to the virus as well the vaccination, it’s likely that the new wave may not be of any consequence,” he said.
Maharashtra’s Covid-19 task force member Dr Shashank Joshi said that the city’s current spurt is linked to the festivities and ongoing wedding season. “These are small, scattered cluster breakouts due to the high population density and the gatherings. We will have to closely monitor and contain these clusters and watch the trends in the coming weeks before labelling the spurt as a wave,” he said, adding that a fresh wave will have to be corroborated with rise in test positivity rate as well as lower doubling time. “For now, it is apt to call the rise in cases as a spurt,” he said.