India / Revenge travel may trigger 3rd COVID-19 wave in India: ICMR experts

Zoom News : Oct 07, 2021, 10:15 AM
New Delhi: With somewhat stable situation in India, in terms of Covid-19 cases, people have started taking to roads, sky and sea. The hotels, restaurants and several other public places have opened too for the visitors across the country. However, now experts have advised against “revenge travel

Want to know why? Well, that’s because, according to the experts, a surge in social gatherings by tourists or mass congregations due to social, religious or political events may set off the third wave of Covid-19 in India. Yes, you heard us right. Keep scrolling down to understand how we can avoid worsening the situation in the country.

Hold Your Travel Plans as ‘Revenge Travel’ May Cause COVID-19 Third Wave in India, Warns ICMR

As per the researchers, data from Himachal Pradesh suggests that in a typical holiday season, tourism can increase the population by 40 percent.

“Taking this into consideration, the third-wave peak can increase by up to 47 percent during the holiday season and can occur two weeks earlier compared to a scenario of easing restrictions in the absence of holiday travel,” researchers said.

The opinion piece titled “Responsible travel to and within India during the COVID-19 pandemic” was authored by Balram Bhargava, Samiran Panda and Sandip Mandal from ICMR and Nimalan Arinaminpathy from Imperial College London.

“A sudden increase in population density due to incoming tourists or mass congregations due to social, political or religious reasons can worsen the third wave scenario,” the researchers said in the opinion piece according to a PTI report.

The Risk of Covid-19 Transmission

The deadly second wave of coronavirus showed varying impacts in different states. However, smaller states with rarefied populations witnessed not only less intense spread than was apparent at the national level but also delayed attainment of the second peak, the researchers observed in their study.

To understand the implications better, giving examples of popular tourist destinations such as Manali and Darjeeling, the researchers said that observations indicate increasing opportunities for transmission in areas where population-level immunity has not yet accumulated to the same levels as elsewhere in the country.

‘Responsible Travel’ is The Key

Proposing “responsible travel”, researchers said mask use and observing social distancing measures by travellers can have important effects in mitigating the risk of coronavirus transmission. In fact, the vaccine status can also play a key role in eligibility to travel, with some caveats, researchers said.

“Vaccine passports have limitations, arising from uncertainties about how the nature and strength of vaccine-induced immunity would change over time. Also, despite being the world’s largest producer of COVID-19 vaccines, India faces the challenge of having the world’s second-largest population to vaccinate. Nonetheless, as vaccination coverage scales, vaccine status can play an increasingly important role in eligibility to travel,” they said.

What More?

Well, the opinion piece has stated that immunization planning may also benefit from prioritizing the local population in holiday destinations. Maintaining surveillance in at-risk settings, ensuring that virological testing is maintained even during apparent low infection activity will be important.

Observing that no national guideline exists on restrictions about domestic travel, the researchers said it may be helpful for holiday-destination states to get guidance on how they can best mitigate travel-related risks.

“With the possibility of a severe third wave in India still looming, it remains critical to recognize and mitigate the risks involved. A shared sense of responsibility, amongst visitors, residents and local authorities, will go a long way towards protecting the welfare of the country as a whole,” the researchers added.

Even though “responsible travel” is one of the safe options right now, it is advised to stay indoors for some more time to mitigate the impending doom. Think well and don’t forget to check Covid-related guidelines before packing your travel bags!