Covid-19 Threat Continues
As the number of Covid-19 cases and casualties in India fell significantly over the last few weeks after a devastating second wave caused untold suffering to the citizens, with thousands of families losing their near and dear ones to the virus, cash-strapped state governments have started relaxing lockdown restrictions. Governments are on the horns of a dilemma as restrictive measures are necessary to control the spread of the virus and casualties on one hand and economic activities need to be resumed on the other, after months of closure. Business community has expressed concern over lockdown, arguing that it is not only affecting the daily wage earners, who have been pushed to life and death situations with their source of livelihood being completely cut off, but also small entrepreneurs and start-ups. The clamour from the traders and public alike to lift, or at least to relax the restrictive measures has grown louder. The frustration is clear and the complaints are genuine but lockdown relaxation in some states has been greeted with people thronging the streets, shopping malls, dine-in restaurants, religious places and tourist spots, quite similar to the sight witnessed when the restrictions were relaxed during the first wave last year. Many health experts had said complacency that followed after the dip in cases gave room for the second wave to create havoc across the country.
Closer home, Nagaland managed to control the first wave effectively despite the return of stranded citizens from various Covid-affected states. The second wave affected the state more than the first one with more cases and casualties. But like its counterparts, the state has announced gradual lockdown relaxation starting from July 1 as daily fresh cases have dropped over the last few weeks. However, the state is far from safe as weekly positivity rate (ending June 25) is still 9 percent against the state’s target of below 5 percent. This indicates that there could be uneasy ease if the lockdown is lifted because of public pressure as positive cases could shoot up again as seen in the past, if the citizens do not follow basic preventive measures. WHO has pointed out that Covid transmission mostly happens in crowded places, close settings and enclosed spaces. While most companies in corporate sector have adapted well to “work from home” culture, it will take time for government sector to enable its employees to work from home. Another matter of concern is the spread of highly transmissible delta variant and the delta plus variant that could threaten senior citizens and children as well. This calls for the need to be vigilant and accelerate vaccination to mitigate a possible third wave of the pandemic besides following Covid-appropriate behaviour. There is no other way but to gradually relax lockdown but it should not compromise safety.