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Mumbai: New strain, drop in temp during monsoon will lead to surge in Covid-19 cases, say experts

Updated on: 06 June,2022 01:25 PM IST  |  Mumbai
Vinod Kumar Menon | vinodm@mid-day.com

Virologists mid-day had spoken to in March had predicted uptick in cases in the monsoon months, warn Mumbaikars not to ignore flu-like symptoms

Mumbai: New strain, drop in temp during monsoon will lead to surge in Covid-19 cases, say experts

Commuters without masks travel aboard a packed BEST bus in Borivli on Sunday. Pic/Nimesh Dave


A new strain of COVID-19 (BA.2.12.2) and a dip in the temperature with the arrival of the monsoon will lead to a surge in the novel Coronavirus infections. A set of experts mid-day had spoken to earlier this year were the first to hint about the likely rise in cases by June. With cases already rising over the past few weeks, the experts have stressed the need for the public to follow COVID-appropriate behaviour. 


The new strain is a sub-variant of Omicron. 

Dr Santosh Bansode, HoD, Emergency Medicine, Wockhardt hospitalsDr Santosh Bansode, HoD, Emergency Medicine, Wockhardt hospitals


“For the foreseeable future, the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 will continue evolving into new variants that lead to fresh waves of surging COVID cases across the world… Sub-variants of Omicron coming from South Africa and the US/Europe were predicted to cause a surge in cases in India by July 2022. The size of the wave will be determined by cold weather due to the rainy season. This newspaper carried this story way back in February when many virologists and epidemiologists discarded the scientific predictions of wave 4 that was otherwise supported by IIT Kanpur groups,” said Dr Subhash Hira, professor of global health at University of Washington-Seattle and advisor to WHO-TDR-Geneva.

Citing an earlier report in mid-day, Dr Hira said he and other experts had recommended that high prevalence states of India during wave 3 should not dismantle their COVID barrier and treatment facilities till the world is finally done with the pandemic.

Mask is missing as commuters wait for a BEST bus in Borivali on Sunday. Pic/Nimesh DaveMask is missing as commuters wait for a BEST bus in Borivali on Sunday. Pic/Nimesh Dave

‘Few in hospitals, really?’

Dr Wiqar Shaikh, Professor of Medicine, Grant Medical College and Sir J.J. Group of Hospitals, said, “Be it plague, cholera, measles or influenza, all have had multiple waves before they finally abated. Why should COVID-19 be an exception?” Dr Shaikh said he is shocked that people have been gloating over the fact that despite the uptick in cases, there are hardly any hospitalizations and deaths. He said that both hospitalizations and deaths will increase when Covid-19 cases jump to several thousand a day.  

Dr Shaikh said that when the 1st wave came to an end, everyone thought that the pandemic was over. “People threw caution to the winds, threw away their masks and mingled with huge crowds. But India did get a 2nd wave [the deadly Delta variant] and the 3rd wave [the Omicron variant]. Several countries such as South Africa, USA, European countries, have already had a 5th wave.”

He also rued the removal of the mask mandate. He urged people to compulsorily wear masks and follow social distancing.

‘Exercise caution’

Dr Ketan Vagholkar, Professor of Surgery at DY Patil Medical College, said the BA.2.12.2 strain is more contagious and likely to be associated with severe illness. “... With the onset of monsoon on the anvil, the temperatures will vary significantly. This will predispose to respiratory infections. However, with newer variants of COVID emerging, citizens are advised to exercise caution. The usual flu-like illness needs to be taken seriously. Self-medication is to be strictly avoided. Citizens should seek medical advice immediately and receive medications under strict physician supervision,” he said. 

‘Need good screening’

Dr Santosh Bansode, HoD, Emergency Medicine, Wockhardt hospitals, said it’s concerning that the new variant is spreading fast in California. “So, we need good screening at our airports. We don’t want any variant which spreads fast to enter our country. We must encourage people to take booster doses of vaccines and wear masks when at crowded places or places where ventilation is not good. Hand hygiene is also important,” said the experts. He added, “People should keep their nutrition well and should try to live life with less stress to keep their immunity good. Rest, how Covid will spread and how serious symptoms it will give only time will tell.”


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