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Thursday, 5 November 2020

Diwali, winter can lead to second surge in region

Naina Mishra

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 4

A majority of population here still remains susceptible to Covid-19 exposure, and the Diwali festival and winter could push up transmission, leading to a second surge in the region.

According to experts, the two reasons that will contribute to the second surge of Covid cases in winter will be gatherings of people in the lower-income group and the tendency of a virus to survive for a longer period in a colder climate.

Besides, the Diwali festival can work in favour of the second surge, as air pollution caused by crackers will help aerosols of the virus produced by an infected person to remain afloat in the air for longer than 10-20 minutes, resulting in increased transmission of Covid-19.

"The burning of firecrackers releases gaseous pollutants SO2, NO2 and huge amounts of ambient particulate into the atmosphere that generate dense clouds of smoke. These air pollutants stimulate the ACE-2 receptors on respiratory nasal cells, thus increasing permeability of the SARS-COV-2 virus to easily enter these cells and establish infection in the nose, throat and lungs," said the UT Director of Health Services, Dr Amandeep Kaur Kang.

'25 per cent residents may have been infected'

Dr Rajesh Kumar, former Head of School of Public Health and Community Medicine, PGI, says around 2.5 lakh to 3.5 lakh people in Chandigarh may have been infected, which comprises 25-35 per cent population. The estimation is based on the hypothesis that for every Covid positive case, there will be 20-30 undetected cases.

"Since this virus is novel, not many people have antibodies against it and still, a vast majority of the population is susceptible to the exposure. The virus does not have a free run when at least 60 per cent of the population has been infected, which, in turn, acts as a barrier for transmission. At the onset of winter, people belonging to the lower-income group tend to stay indoors in public spaces with less ventilation. A virus once introduced may remain for a longer period of time and circulate among a large number of people. There is no definite trend for the Covid-19 virus but most flu viruses tend to survive longer in cooler climate," said Dr Kumar.

Need to overcome mobility, mask fatigue

Dr Rajesh Kumar, former Head of School of Public Health and Community Medicine, PGI, said: "If barriers of transmission such as the use of mask are adopted by people without any fatigue, the second surge may not be of a greater degree than the first one. The more people will mix with each other, the more will the virus spread."

UT's appeal to residents

Dr Amandeep Kaur Kang, Director of Health Services, UT, says: "People should stay indoors and desist from bursting firecrackers this Diwali so that we can protect elderly persons and patients with co-morbidities. If we add smoke to the air by bursting firecrackers, then it could turn out to be a recipe for disaster. Even those who have recovered from the Covid-19 virus will become vulnerable if we do not restrain ourselves during Diwali."

from The Tribune

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