THE novel Coronavirus has impacted the whole world in one way or the other. In South-Asia the average death rate is approximately 1.14% (Afghanistan 3.54%, India 2.03%, Bangladesh 1.31%, Sri Lanka 0.38%, Nepal 0.32%, Maldives 0.39% and Bhutan 0%). As per the government, with around 1400 diagnostic labs at place, the systematic and coordinated implementation of 3-T strategy (Test, Track and Treat) by the Centre, states and Union Territories has proven effective. India has also recorded the lowest, 30 deaths per million compared to the global, 91 deaths per million.
In Kashmir, there are approximately over 34,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Jammu and Kashmir, among which 23% are active, 75% have recovered and 1.87% have deceased, as per the government data. These figures are in synergy with the overall situation in India. Compared with the population level, the situation seems to be under control but at the ground level, the situation appears to be worsening.
While, quarantine centres have been a subject of criticism since the beginning; health facilities are also facing shortage of beds, ventilators and supplies. There has also been constant criticism about faulty data vis a vis true/actual number of COVID-19 cases in Jammu and Kashmir.
Therefore, while our health care is already overburdened, we do not even know the true estimate of the situation and the potential of it worsening. With so much ambiguity, we as a community must stay prepared and alert to avert the dangers of this disease. The most important factor in preventing the spread of the virus locally is to empower citizens with the right information and taking precautions as per the advisories being issued by the ministries and public health directorates.
Due to continuous coverage and reporting of COVID-19 related updates, an inundation has been caused. In such a case, getting our facts right is extremely important. Since COVID-19 is a new disease with many unknown inferences, it is causing a bizarre stigma against COVID-19 in the community which is in turn driving people towards hiding their illnesses and delaying seeking treatment. Therefore, it is also extremely pertinent to de-stigmatizatise COVID-19 workers and recovered patients.
Now is the time to build trust in reliable health services, show empathy to those who are affected and adopt effective behavioural measures. Healthcare workers spend hours in a single piece of protective gear, because there’s scarcity of PPEs. As a result, they can’t leave the infected area for hours. There are visuals of health workers leaving the hospitals dehydrated and exhausted. They are always on-call and are doing their best to de-escalate the situation with the limited resources they have. So, the wit lies in cooperating with them and amplifying their voices.
Awareness and appreciation can be also achieved through the involvement of religious leaders, celebrities, politicians in the campaign against COVID-19 and to promote preventive measures and discourage gatherings. Moreover, these desperate times also call for “ethical journalism” which encourages recommended practices, runs case narratives on COVID-19 warriors and promotes content around basic infection prevention practices, symptoms and the information to know when to seek medical assistance.
In addition to the obvious threat to health and life, Covid-19 has also brought with it other humanitarian issues such as poverty and domestic violence. Therefore, we must encourage young people to volunteer in every aspect. The involvement of youth is needed now more than ever. This war can only be won with unity and cooperation on all sides.
Ateeb Ahmad Parray
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