Living in denial

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 7/10/2020 1:14:36 PM IST

 With India witnessing continuing spikes in COVID-19 cases and with the national lockdown being gradually relaxed, it appears inevitable that the government of India is prepared for total unlock but with certain riders. The Modi government had announced a complete lockdown of all activities from the midnight of March 24 as a strategy to contain the spread of COVID19. The announcement was as sudden as the November 8,2016 demonetisation and also as ill-planned . Both the November 8,2016 and March 24,2020 decisions have resulted in unprecedented hardships for the common people especially the daily wage migrant labourers. The World Health Organisation(WHO) which has proved to be most unhelpful in containing the Wuhan virus by delaying the declaration of a pandemic even after the virus since December 2019, had spread to nearby countries. WHO belatedly declared the Wuhan virus as a pandemic on March 11.However, until March 13, India’s official position was that it “wasn’t a health emergency and there was no need to panic”. When it became clear that the WHO’s ‘health emergency’ was already a pandemic, India took a conflicting stand by stating it was not a health emergency but that there was no need to panic, despite warning by several health experts and epidemiologists. These experts maintained that the virus is highly transmissible and can evade the immune system and spread quickly even without the infected person being sick. Prime minister Modi took to the air on March 24 to announce a nationwide lockdown and assured it would be for only 21 days. By July 10, a total of 78 days have passed since the lockdown took effect. The virus continues to spread at alarming rate and further confirmed that community transmission has already taken place in several states where the thousands infected who had no travel history. On March 24, when nationwide lockdown was announced - most states were already in lockdown - India had less than 600 positive cases of coronavirus infection. Today, in July there are over 8,00,000 COVID-19 cases in the country. One of India’s most renowned epidemiologists, Jayaprakash Muliyil had said that ultimately 50% of the country’s population (or 670 million) will be infected by the coronavirus. He also agreed with a forecast made by Ramanan Laxminarayan, the director of the Washington-based Center for Disease Dynamics, that India could have 200 million cases by September,2020. The spike in COVID-19 cases has also reinforced claims that COVID-19 has taken on a community transmission in India even as health care facilities are near breaking point. A community transmission case is generally accepted as meaning someone who gets the virus had no known contact with another confirmed case nor travelled from a country badly affected by the pandemic, meaning the virus is moving freely in the community. In India COVID-19 has become a local epidemic and there are mounting evidences that spikes in COVID-19 cases in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Guwahati etc, and in a majority of the 130-odd COVID-19 hot spots, point to community transmission. However, for whatever reasons, the government of India continues to live in a denial mode. The vaccine may not be available till after a year. A false sense of security is worse than real threat. To effectively contain the virus, the government should shed its inhibition and political interests and call a spade a spade.

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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