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Covid- Moving Towards The Endemic Stage in India

Context:

According to the data updated by the Union Health Ministry recently, India recorded a single-day rise of 10,158 coronavirus cases, the highest in nearly eight months

Relevance:

GS II- Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key points
  2. What does endemic stage mean, and are we there yet?
  3. Does it mean we are safer?
  4. What is a Coronavirus?
  5. How does the novel coronavirus spread?
  6. What are the Symptoms of Coronavirus?
  7. How to prevent Coronavirus infection?

Key points:

  • India is witnessing a surge in Covid-19 cases, across all states.
  • The number of active cases has increased to 44,998, constituting 0.10 per cent of the total infections.
  • The report pointed out that Covid is moving towards the endemic stage.
    • It means that the virus has become a part of the population’s regular disease cycle, much like the flu.
    • This also means that the virus is present at a relatively stable level within a specific geographic area or population.
  • Government sources also highlighted that even though Covid-19 cases are increasing, hospitalisation is low and it is expected to remain low.

What does endemic stage mean, and are we there yet?

  • An infection becomes endemic when the rates become static in a given geographical location, meaning that the pathogen causing the disease — SARS-CoV-2 in this case — is likely to remain in circulation without causing large outbreaks as witnessed over the last two years.
  • Although the number of infections in India is consistently declining, experts say they cannot give a deadline on when the disease will become endemic.
  • It will depend on the number of susceptible people in the population, vaccination rates, and emergence of new variants that are able to evade the immune response.
    • For example, flu which goes up in the winters and when the season is changing because of lower immunity in people or dengue which goes up after monsoons because of the availability of vectors. Covid-19 also may become seasonal and cause disease in the vulnerable
  • An important determinant for whether we can “technically” say that the disease is endemic would be a representative sero-survey (population-level survey of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2) and laboratory susceptibility studies
  • The disease is endemic only after we see that a majority of the people have immunity against the infection either through previous exposure or vaccination.

Does it mean we are safer?

  • A disease becoming endemic does not mean it is harmless. A disease can be endemic and both widespread and deadly.
    • For Example: Malaria killed more than 600,000 people in 2020. Ten million fell ill with tuberculosis that same year and 1.5 million died.
  • Endemic certainly does not mean that evolution has somehow tamed a pathogen so that life simply returns to normal.

What is a Coronavirus?

  • Coronaviruses are a class of viruses so named because their electron microscope image resembles the corona of the sun.
  • They are usually found in animals, but sometimes get transmitted to human beings possibly through the food chain.
  • The symptoms can include fever, cough and shortness of breath.
  • This happened during the 2003 outbreak of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) coronavirus that claimed close to 800 lives.
  • The current 2019 strain that had originated in China has been named as 2019 ‘novel’ coronavirus (2019-nCoV) or SARS-CoV-2.

How does the novel coronavirus spread?

The virus is transmitted through

  1. Direct contact with respiratory droplets of an infected person (generated through coughing and sneezing)
  2. Touching surfaces contaminated with the virus.

The virus may survive on surfaces for several hours, but simple disinfectants can kill it.

What are the Symptoms of Coronavirus?

  • Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 may appear two to 14 days after exposure and can include:
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • The severity of COVID-19 symptoms can range from very mild to severe.
  • People who are older or have existing medical conditions, such as heart disease, may be at higher risk of serious illness.
  • This is similar to what is seen with other respiratory illnesses, such as influenza.

How to prevent Coronavirus infection?

  • Although there is no vaccine available to prevent infection with the new coronavirus, you can take steps to reduce your risk of infection. WHO and CDC recommend following the standard precautions for avoiding respiratory viruses:
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth if your hands aren’t clean.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick.
  • Avoid sharing dishes, glasses, bedding and other household items if you’re sick.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces you often touch.
  • Stay home from work, school and public areas if you’re sick.
  • CDC doesn’t recommend that healthy people wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. Only wear a mask if a health care provider tells you to do so.
  • WHO also recommends that you:
  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked meat or animal organs.
  • Avoid contact with live animals and surfaces they may have touched if you’re visiting live markets in areas that have recently had new coronavirus cases.

-Source: The Indian Express


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