With as many as 28 percent Indians planning to travel in August-September, which is also the time for some of the major festivals in the country, the risk of the third wave of the pandemic is set to rise, according to a survey. In a statement, online platform LocalCircles also said its survey on April 12 had outlined the immediate second wave risk suggesting governments to impose travel restrictions.
To estimate the risk once again in light of a potential third COVID-19 wave and to understand people's travel plans for the coming months, LocalCircles conducted another survey. It also sought to understand the reason for their travel amid the second wave of the pandemic, it said. The survey received over 18,000 responses from citizens residing in 311 districts, with 68 percent of respondents men and the rest women.
LocalCircles said 28 percent citizens are planning to travel during August-September though only five percent have made their bookings. It added that during the second wave of the outbreak, many citizens faced teething issues to cancel their travel plan for the summer. In many cases, the travel agent or the airline did not refund anything, and some citizens lost the complete ticket amount, while some were able to retrieve a partial amount, and others were asked to re-book the ticket for a later date, it stated.
As many citizens now look forward to travelling in August and September, the first question in the survey was to know about their current plan. "In response, it received from 9,146 people, 63 percent of citizens said they don't have a plan to travel during these two months.
"Five percent said they have plans and have booked the tickets, along with stays while 23 percent said they have a plan to travel during these two months but have not booked tickets and they stay yet. Nine percent said they are undecided," LocalCircles said in the statement. During this time, many parts of India have holidays for festivals and there is a good bit of travel that takes place. Many also tend to club these holidays with weekends by taking a day or two off, it stated.
The survey also asked citizens about what kind of personal travel do they plan to undertake in the next two months. "In response, 13 percent citizens said "holiday destination", 39 percent citizens said "visit family and friends" and 22 percent said "other travel"," it said.
The report added that the results of the survey indicate that of those who plan to travel in August-September, 54 percent will be visiting friends and family. On an aggregate basis, if the data of those planning to travel in August-September is analysed, it indicates that 54 percent plan to "visit family and friends", 26 percent will be travelling to "holiday destinations", and 32 percent will be undertaking other kinds of travel, according to the statement.
In summary, with the decline in daily COVID-19 caseload, 28 percent citizens plan to travel in August-September. As indicated by the findings of the survey, 23 percent of citizens plan to travel in the next two months, though they haven't booked their tickets yet and only 5 percent of citizens surveyed have booked their tickets and accommodation, it stated.
Of those who are planning travel, the majority of 54 percent citizens are planning to meet their friends and family, while 26 percent plan to travel to a holiday destination, LocalCircles said. "The government must continue to create awareness among people about limiting non-essential travel till the time the risk of a third COVID-19 wave greatly reduces.
"The biggest challenge with travel when the virus is spreading was observed in March and April during the Kumbh Mela when as devotees went back to their hometowns, many came back with the infection," LocalCircles said. The platform said it will also submit the findings of this survey with central and state governments, so that the same can be used as an input in policy decisions in regard to mitigating the risk of the third COVID-19 wave in India.
Although the daily cases in India have declined significantly for nearly two months from four lakh to 40,000 range, infections in some districts continue to remain on an upward trajectory, particularly in Kerala and Maharashtra, said LocalCircles. "The test positivity rate in as many as 45 districts across India is reportedly still 10 percent or higher.
"PM Narendra Modi earlier this month expressed concerns about overcrowding at tourist destinations and markets and about the COVID-19 situation in Maharashtra and Kerala, as they have been reporting an increasing number of infections," it stated. It can be recalled that the spread of infection was highly concentrated in Maharashtra at the start of the second wave but the impact was later felt all across the country, the online platform said.
It added, "PM Modi has told the Council of Ministers that there should be no space for carelessness or complacency and directed the ministers to take all possible precautions to contain and mitigate the spread." Experts have warned that with crowds building up, low adherence to COVID-19 appropriate behaviour, the third wave is inevitable, and it could hit the country in August-September.
Some experts have also highlighted the danger of Delta Plus variant spreading. However, so far, the number of cases of Delta Plus variant identified via genome sequencing across India have been less than 500, according to the statement.
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