Even though the state has not reported any Omicron case till date, the number of people infected with this new variant is rising considerably in different states and is likely to hit Bihar sooner or later. Health experts predict that a third wave of Covid-19 may be witnessed early next year if the present trend continues.
All India Institute of Medical Sciences-Patna Covid-19 in-charge Dr Sanjeev Kumar said as a lot of people are coming to the state from all over the globe and the local people are not strictly adhering to the safety protocols, Omicron variant would certainly hit the state by the second week of January.
“Omicron is spreading at a rate we have not seen with any previous variant. There is a need for preparedness as the new variant is extremely infectious and it evades immunity. Even people vaccinated with double doses are reportedly getting infected with this strain,” he said, adding that genome sequencing must be done properly at more places in the state.
According to Dr Arun Shah, a Muzaffarpur-based senior paediatrician, Omicron cases are spreading like wildfire all over the world. Moreover, it is evading immunity even in vaccinated people or in people with a history of natural infection. There is an apprehension of the emergence of a mutant variant with the persistence of chain transmission.
“In a very short period it has affected 82 countries and is spreading exponentially. More than 60 cases have already been reported from our country and if it spreads like this, the third wave will certainly hit the Indian states, including Bihar in a couple of months,” he said.
Dr Shah suggested that the government must consider the proposal for the administration of booster dose of vaccine to the people already vaccinated with two doses so that they may be protected from the virus. “Inoculation of children should also be started. Moreover, the government must also strengthen its health infrastructure to meet any eventuality in the wake of a fresh wave,” he added.
Nalanda Medical College and Hospital deputy superintendent Dr Satish Kumar regretted that even though the government is taking all the necessary steps in the wake of Omicron threat, there is no seriousness among the public.
“A vast majority of people are neither using face masks nor maintaining social distance, Kumar said.
Patna University Central Dispensary chief medical officer Dr Anil Kumar said the third wave of Covid-19 would depend largely on the screening of the travellers coming from outside and the alertness of the locals.
“The way people are mixing freely during festivals and marriages, it is bound to create a situation favourable for the emergence of the third wave in near future,” he said, adding that the government should continue to strengthen surveillance, public health and vaccination drives.