The positivity rate for COVID-19 is yet to fall to the desired levels in the district, say health officials.
The district administration was of the opinion that the positivity rate during the second wave would drop to 1% by June 20. Though the number of active cases has come down substantially, the positivity rate is still hovering between 3% and 4.5%. In the last two days, over 400 out of 10,000 samples tested positive for COVID.
The second wave, which health officials say was predominantly caused by the Delta variant, created havoc in April and May, with the district recording over 60,000 cases. The curve started to decline begininning in June and by the first week of July, the number of daily cases vacillated between 100 and 150, which was a significant drop from the 2,000 cases per day recorded in May.
“We expected the daily cases to fall below 100 by the end of June, and drop even further in July. However, there is an increase in cases since the first week of July, ever since the restrictions on partial curfew have been relaxed,” said District COVID Special Officer and Principal of Andhra Medical College Dr. P.V. Sudhakar.
“The restrictions have been relaxed in a phased manner since June 20, and now the curfew is in force only from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. We cannot have sustained lockdowns as they would badly impact the economy and the earnings of the people,” said a senior official in the district administration.
“People should realise that relaxation in curfew is only to allow people to step out to buy essentials or go to work. But what we are seeing is a completely different scenario with many people throwing all caution to the wind. Tourist spots are jampacked, and people are roaming around beaches without wearing masks. Social distancing too has gone for a toss,” said Dr. P.A. Ramani, IMA-Visakhapatnam president.
According to Dr. Sesh Mohan Debta of Apollo Hospital, vaccination only helps as a safeguard and cannot guarantee foolproof protection from the virus.
“Even people who are vaccinated should follow all COVID protocols as the virus is here to stay and not go so early,” he cautioned.
“Within a span of six months, we saw at least two deadly variants hitting the Indian population. The virus is mutating fast, and it is becoming difficult to understand the mutation and its effects such as rate of transmission, progression of the disease and its reaction to antibodies including vaccines. So, the best way is to keep following safety protocols,” said Dr. Debta.
Doctors are of the opinion that the pandemic may stay for another two years with multiple cycles, until it is neutralised by a dormant mutant which can happen only when the people go through a multiple vaccination cycle.