Explained: Is the fourth COVID wave coming?

On Tuesday, India recorded 3,714 fresh COVID-19 cases , a significant decline from the previous day’s count at 4,518. Despite a day’s declin...

On Tuesday, India recorded 3,714 fresh COVID-19 cases, a significant decline from the previous day’s count at 4,518. Despite a day’s decline, the nation faces a possible surge in COVID cases as several states have been recording a steady increase in the numbers.

With COVID restrictions being implemented in some places again, is the country looking at the fourth wave of the deadly disease? Let’s take a look:

What do the numbers say?

The Centre on 3 June wrote to five states where the increasing numbers of COVID cases are causing concern. It noted that Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Telangana, Maharashtra and Karnataka may have a localised spread of infection.

In the past week, Maharashtra has been witnessing a sudden surge in COVID cases with several cities, including Palghar, Thane, and Mumbai recording the highest jump in fresh COVID-19 cases over the past week with 350 per cent, 192 per cent, and 136 per cent increase respectively. After four straight days, Mumbai saw a drop in cases on Monday, presumably due to fewer tests on Sunday.

Also read: Even vaccinated people can develop Long COVID-19, finds study

According to LiveMint, the total number of cases reported in the first five days of June is more than double the total number of cases in March (1,519), almost 60 per cent of the April cases (1,795) and over 50 per cent of the May burden (5,838).

For the past week, Kerala has been reporting more than 1,000 daily cases, however, the state’s health minister, Veena George, assured that there is no need for concern. She noted that Ernakulam, Thiruvananthapuram and Kottayam districts need special attention.

Similarly, cases have been increasing at a rapid pace in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Telangana. In Bengaluru, the civic body has mandated mask-wearing and social distancing in public spaces.

What are the experts saying?

According to a News18 report, which cites Dr Rakesh Mishra, director of Tata Institute of Genetics and Society, the chances of a fourth wave of COVID-19 are “extremely small”.

However, it is necessary to follow all safety protocols amid rising infections. Despite low severity of disease, it is important to ramp up genome sequencing as a stronger variant could be the cause behind new cases, said Dr Mishra.

Mishra told news agency ANI, “Omicron and its sub-lineages can re-infect any vaccinated person and/or the ones who have had a natural infection and so on. The severity of the disease is extremely low and most people are going to be asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms. But if people fall sick, that should be taken very seriously. It may be problematic because maybe a new variant is coming."

He further said there was a need to strengthen genome sequencing for this very reason, as a stronger variant could be behind new infections.

Dr Sanjay Rai, Professor at Centre for Community Medicine dept at AIIMS, Delhi, said that it was unlikely that severity of the infection and death toll would increase with the number of cases.

“The number of cases might increase which doesn't matter much as RNA virus keeps mutating. Increased severity & death toll matters, which is unlikely. These types of viruses don't end quickly and fluctuations will keep happening. We should move toward normalcy,” Rai told news agency ANI.

He further added that compared to the second and third waves, the situation in the country can be considered great right now.

With inputs from agencies

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