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Expert says ‘Don’t Lower Guards’ as Karnataka to be hit by third wave of Covid

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The daily Covid-19 statistics recorded in Karnataka in recent days hint at the second wave of the pandemic’s downward trend, with specialists predicting that the surge in cases will stabilise by mid-June. They cautioned against relaxing the vigilance, predicting that the third wave will arrive by the end of October. Experts believe the third wave will be deadlier than the previous two, based on the experiences of European countries.

“It is a clear indication that by the third wave, we have to strengthen the medical infrastructure in order to treat a higher number of patients than the second wave. The next few months should be used for that,” said Giridhar Babu, a professor of epidemiology and member of the state’s Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) on Covid-19.

Experts say that preparations for the third wave must go beyond medical infrastructure and oxygen supply and that the younger population may be the most susceptible demographic in the event of a disaster. Babu explained that because most old citizens would have been vaccinated by then, people under the age of 18 would be the most vulnerable. Infections among children, he added, would be a greater concern.

Between March and September 2020, 19,378 children under the age of ten were infected in Karnataka during the first wave. Since then, 49,257 people in the age group have tested positive for Covid-19. According to state health department data, 68,635 children under the age of ten have been infected as of May 20 this year.

According to state data, 41,895 people aged 10 to 19 tested positive for the virus between March and September 2020, while another 131,391 were infected since then, bringing the total to 173,286.

The Karnataka government has publicly announced the formation of a 13-member medical expert team, led by famed cardiac surgeon Devi Prasad Shetty, to develop a plan to combat the potential third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. After the Karnataka high court ordered the government to submit its measures to combat the pandemic, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa revealed Shetty’s name on May 14.

Experts also stressed the importance of increasing the number of beds in hospitals and other facilities, citing several stories of individuals dying because they were unable to obtain a hospital bed. The proportion of persons who died without receiving a hospital bed climbed rapidly in the second wave of Covid-19.

While outside-of-hospital deaths accounted for 3.8 per cent of all deaths in the first wave, they increased to 9.3 per cent in the second wave, accounting for one out of every ten Covid fatalities in Karnataka, according to an analysis of health bulletins released by the Karnataka state health department so far.

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