The Unlocking Spree Begins Amid The Inevitable Risks Of Another Looming Wave!


About 10 million people, as estimated, have lost their jobs/income following the state-wise lockdowns across India in view of the marauding second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is feared that 10 million more people are likely to lose their jobs/income till the economy gets back on rails. Therefore, nobody can deny the inevitability of the pandemic-oriented debate of Lives Vs Livelihoods, and the easing of the curbs has to follow at some stage. However, experts keep on saying that the unlocking process must be well thought-out and gradual. Even then, the associated risks with the forecast of a third wave in about six months cannot be eliminated, and Maharashtra, a state that has adopted a very mature 5-level unlocking as per the prevailing positivity rates and the occupancy percentage of oxygen beds across the respective districts, has still pointed out that the state government has taken calculated risks with those decisions.

 

The national capital region Delhi, with the positivity rate coming down below 1%, has also started the process of unlocking with its overenthusiastic-as-ever Chief Minister seemingly showing a hurry to open up things faster, the same hurry he had shown during the first wave of the pandemic that led to additional waves in the capital. He has opened up almost everything, albeit with his odd-even obsession, and also started the metro train services at 50% capacity without any categorization of passengers. He even said during his unlock speech that Delhi is to prepare for tackling 37000-a-day infections; before saying this he should have understood what that kind of daily figures would mean for the number of possible unfortunate deaths; he must keep on improving the health infra no doubt, but first he should take all measures to prevent a horrendous wave let loose again.  

 

Both Delhi and Maharashtra, I think, have gone a little wrong in opening up the govt/private offices at 50% attendance whereas a 20-30% attendance would have been more discrete; because, particularly in Maharashtra, the availability of the public transport services are still not concomitant with the set-to-increase demand with the local trains still running only for essential employees, and the almost inevitable allowing of the buses to run at 100% capacity, although only seating passengers, is like going a bit too fast.

 

What the country has experienced and still going through during the monstrous second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is wholly due to the complete lack of anticipation, preparation and the willingness to pay heed to common knowledge and experts’ opinions abundantly available all the time. The focus had been, on the contrary, on holding assembly, panchayat and what-not elections, the observance of religious festivals and unrestricted partying at all levels, and we are already watching with horror the government’s obsession in the next year’s elections, despite the fact that a lot of information has been made available regarding the impending third wave that can pick out children and young adults as its special targets. There is just no room for one more mistake. Every single administrative unit of the country must prepare in advance and at the slightest indication must enforce the curbs again. Unfortunately, vaccination has suffered a major setback at a time when it should have been really ramped up to protect as many people as possible, at least from the severe form of the disease after infection.

 

The Government of India has been saying that from July 2021 onward administering of the jabs would be accelerated and by the end of the year everybody, as per the present above-18 guideline, will be vaccinated. We have no better option but to believe the government and hope for the best. It is also to be noted that daily infections figures in the last 24 hours are still above the 1-Lakh mark which is still higher than the first-wave peak of 97000, and the daily fatality figures are still around 2500. Further, scares like long COVID, secondary infections and Black Fungus are still upsetting peoples’ minds across the country. Caution is the word; the only word now for all governments and citizens. 

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