Origins and Spread
The Covid 19 pandemic which originated in Wuhan, China at the end of 2019, spread around the world with astonishing rapidity, affecting all countries without exception. India was one of the hardest hit, especially from Mar 2020 onwards, forcing the Government to declare a lockdown. During this first wave, cases rose almost to 1 lakh per day by September, before subsiding to less than 10,000 by Jan 2021. Even as most Indians were rejoicing having been spared the worst of the pandemic, the second wave hit us from end February 2021 and was far more deadly and widespread than the first wave. New cases touched a daily peak of 4.14 lakh on May 7, but then started declining to reach a low of about 7000 cases/day by the end of the year, before again steeply rising with the rapid spread of the Omicron variant although this variant is much milder than the earlier variants. Cases have been on the decline since 2022 and as of Sept 2023, there are less than 500 active cases in India. Consequently, most restrictions that were in place through most of 2020 and 2021 have been lifted. However, it is still advisable – though not mandatory – for veterans to take precautions such as wearing face masks – in crowded and enclosed spaces.
A number of companies working round the clock, in an incredibly short span of time, produced safe and effective vaccines to provide immunity against Covid 19 with a high degree of efficacy. As of Sep 2023, around 220 crore vaccinations have been given in India. This has contributed immensely to the reduced risk of Covid amongst the population. While most vaccines require two mandatory doses, the MoHFW has also advised certain categories of persons to take a third (booster) dose 6 months (26 weeks) from the date of administration of 2nd dose. This includes those above the age of 60 years, while those in the age group 18-59 years are also eligible but can only get the dose from civil hospitals.
Vaccination certificates may still be required for some individuals wishing to travel. The vaccine certificate can be downloaded onto the PC/smartphone from the CoWin website/app (or Aarogya Setu app) or through DigiLocker. The Govt has also introduced a Whatsapp based system for obtaining this certificate using the MyGov Corona Helpdesk. For this, save contact number: +91 9013151515. Type & send Covid certificate on WhatsApp to this number, then enter OTP that you will receive to get your vaccination certificate. Certain countries also require an International Travel Certificate, which can be downloaded from the CoWin website.
Facilities for Treatment
All military hospitals in Pune have taken extraordinary steps to provide medical treatment to Covid 19 patients – both serving and retired; as well as carry out vaccinations for all entitled personnel. Special Covid care centres have been set up at the hospitals with dedicated doctors and nurses. A list of helplines set up by various hospitals is placed below.