On April 2, India saw 89,129 cases and 714 deaths emerging within 24 hours. This surge is the highest since September 20, 2020. Doctors are alerting that this second wave is deadly and the rise is very steep. Although eight other states, led by Maharashtra, are facing an extraordinary rise in this second wave, it can spread to other states in no time.
The point is: What is to be done? In his address, Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray cautioned that if things are not controlled, then there could be another lockdown. Many Western countries imposed lockdowns during their second and third phases. So, many are apprehensive that India may go for another stringent lockdown as well.
The question is: Will another lockdown be beneficial to India? Some may argue that public health should be kept above the national economy. Others argue that lockdown won’t solve the situation. I also believe that a lockdown is no answer to the second wave.
The point to be noted that such viral infections will always have some waves because of the constant mutation of the virus. In 1918, the Spanish flu also witnessed three waves. The first wave was smaller, whereas the second wave was larger, followed by a third wave that was a bit medium.
After 100 years, the world has moved much ahead in technology and innovation. In the case of Covid-19 case, within a year, a number of vaccines have been developed and are already being administered. Vaccines don’t give instant immunity; it takes around two-three weeks (from the day of the first dose) for the body to build any immunity against the virus. Also, there’s a limitation to the production of vaccine shots. It is difficult to produce seven billion double-dose vaccines to cover the world population overnight. India is the largest producer of the global vaccine. But then, India also has the second largest population.
One may cite the example of the nationwide lockdown during March 2020 as an argument to impose another lockdown now. I differ on this because the purpose of the first lockdown was completely different. The virus was new and no one knew much about the virus. Then, India neither had any testing centres nor testing kits. We didn’t have enough separate hospital facilities. We didn’t even have masks and sanitisers , let alone the PPE kits and other such requirement. Thus, had there been no shutdowns, there would have been an infection explosion and millions of people would have died.
Last years, the governments sacrificed the national economy, and imposed the harshest of lockdowns to stop or slow down the spread and then indulged in capacity building. I think India succeeded in its effort and target in significantly increasing the infrastructure and gradually unlocking various provisions.
The present surge is purely due to the carelessness of people. It’s always easy to blame the government (State or Centre), but if the public doesn’t follow the appropriate Covid-19 protocol, then no government can help us. Last year’s experience taught us that the best way to prevent the infection is to wash hands, wear a mask and maintain physical distance. This Covid-appropriate behaviour can be maintained while doing all our daily jobs.
But, it’s always said that humans are anarchic by nature. They usually remain careless and can only be disciplined by imposing stricter laws, punishment and penalties. That’s why I would recommend the following in place of complete lockdown:
In the future, there will be a third wave of the virus also. But if we really maintain Covid-appropriate behaviour, then I am sure we can tackle this pandemic menace without any problem. Let’s be careful and make prevention protocol a habit instead of a compulsion.