Go Beyond Lockdown

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WITH fifteen more people succumbing to coronavirus infection in J&K  on Wednesday, eleven of them from Kashmir, the number of fatalities caused by Covid-19 across the Union Territory has risen to 664. J&K has also recorded a fresh 704 cases, taking the total number of people infected by the virus to 34,480. Srinagar has once again recorded the highest number of 198 cases.

If anything, it shows a steady rise in the number of cases over the past five months, with no signs of the government getting a grip on the runaway contagion. That too despite the government imposing  first a 70 day long lockdown and following it up intermittently with small duration lockdowns. And these measures seem to have achieved little other than hitting the economy hard.

In hindsight, it should be clear to the government that the lockdowns have not helped. Either the lockdown was not inherently helpful a measure in addressing the outbreak of the contagion or the tool was badly handled. But as for their handling, the lockdowns were strictly enforced, creating a curfew like situation on the streets. This also helped prevent the gatherings including the religious assemblies. But considering the exponential rise in the number of Covid-19 cases since then, it can be safely concluded  that the lockdown has only made a minor redeeming difference to the spread of contagion. And by now the government  should have learnt its lesson and explored other measures against the deadly contagion. And the most overriding of such measures should have been the strict enforcement of the safety precautions in public.

But this is something that seems to have only been followed in breach. For example, it is now obvious to one and all that despite the standing government instructions a predominant majority of people do not wear masks in public.  More alarmingly, the masks are conspicuously absent from the faces of most of the passengers using public transport. And none of these violators is taken to task.

This is strange. The government is ready to lock everything down at the drop of a hat, and doesn’t care two hoots about wrecking the economy that, in turn, deprives thousands of people of their livelihood. But it shirks from implementing the law when it comes to forcing people to observe precautions during the unlock period.  It is time it does so now. The government needs to urgently work on two fronts: one, run an aggressive advertising campaign alerting people to the deadliness of coronavirus and the urgency of observing safety precautions. Second, a strict action needs to be taken against the people who go out without masks or participate in large gatherings. These are the only pragmatic and hopefully helpful tools to tackle the contagion. That too, with least damage to the economy

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