Just when the world started living with Covid and its variants as a part of their lives, the situation in China comes as a scary reminder of the earlier days when the pandemic took over the world. Cases of coronavirus are increasing yet again in several countries, especially China where the landscape has changed massively. Following the mass protests, China suddenly lifted restrictions which led to a surge in Covid-19 infections in the country. Reports suggest that the recent rise in Covid-19 cases in China is driven by the Omicron sub-variant BF.7. The surge in China has shifted the attention to Covid in India with the government asking people to get vaccinated and mask up.
The covid tally in India has reached 4.46 crore with 188 new infections recorded on December 28. The national capital logged 16 fresh Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, taking the positivity rate to 0.44 per cent in Delhi.
China was one of the countries which took the most stringent measures to curb the surge of coronavirus cases. From mass testing to a strong vigilant system to shutting down all public forums, Covid-19 restrictions in China were imposed even when there were few cases of the disease. However, the Chinese government was forced to lift these restrictions post violent protests.
Experts are of the opinion that the Covid restrictions in China were lifted suddenly without even notifying hospitals. The abrupt abandonment of ZERO Covid policy due to increasing protests is being touted as the main reason why the outbreak has happened.
Just like other virus, coronavirus mutates and gives birth to other sub-lineages – a process called convergent evolution. The current surge in China is believed to be due to the BF.7 variant, which is the sub-lineage of the Omicron sub-variant BA.5. Different names are given to different variants, depending on which variant they are derived from.
The BF.7 variant has affected 5 per cent of the cases in the US and more than 7 per cent of cases in the UK, suggests data from several health authorities. A study published in ‘Cell Host and Microbe’ Journal reported that BF.7 sub-variant is 4.4 times more resistant to neutralization than the original D614G variant.
The epidemic has moved back to the centre of India’s attention following the recent rise in Covid-19 cases in China, which is expected to kill millions of people there.
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Dr Ashutosh Shukla, Senior Director- Internal Medicine and Medical Director, Max Hospital Gurugram, Harayana, explains, “As cases of Covid are once again surging in countries like China, USA, and Korea with 4 new cases of the BF-7 variant being reported in India, it is high time for us to go back to following the Covid norms. This is because the chances of this variant spreading across the country can be high. So, Covid appropriate behaviour like wearing a face mask, frequently washing our hands, and avoiding crowded places, is necessary.”
With Christmas and New Year, crowds are inevitable, increasing the risk of the new variant to spread. So, it is important to practice proper precautions.
“It is also advised that if one is going to a crowded place, they should wear a face mask and wash hands frequently and properly with water, if not available then use hand sanitiser and maintain social distancing, which will help prevent the spread of Covid again,” advises Dr Shukla.
In the wake of the Covid situation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting. He stressed the need to ensure that the entire infrastructure is well-prepared in terms of equipment, processes, and human resources while chairing a high-level meeting to review the government’s Covid-19 preparedness in the wake of the surge in cases in China.
The PM urged that testing and genome sequencing activities be stepped up. The INSACOG genome sequencing facilities have requested that the states daily provide a substantial quantity of samples with them. He further urged people to follow Covid-19 norms, especially ahead of the festive season.