Hope On Covid-19 Front

THERE has been some drop in the number of daily coronavirus cases in the country over the past few days. Less than 74,000 people were found positive on Saturday. Several states, including Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Bihar, have seen their growth rates drop below one per cent a day. The decline has followed the meteoric rise in the cases over the last one month, with daily caseload hovering around one lakh. There is no easy explanation for the reduction in numbers. More so, when there has been no drop in the daily tests. Also, the decline is taking place at a time when the country has entered the Unlock 5 whereby the government has allowed the full range of economic activities to reopen including those that involve large gatherings like movie halls and schools. At the same time, the use of masks and the physical distancing norms are not prevalent among the people to an extent where it could perceptibly affect the daily caseload. Unlock has made people lax towards observance of the SOP.

Meanwhile, the total number of positive cases in the country has reached 66 lakh. But about 84 per cent, which works out more than 55 lakh, have already recovered from the disease. Over 1.1 lakh people have lost their lives.

Be that as it may, the decline in numbers is a positive development. There is hope now that the daily caseload shows a progressive decline. But in the absence of a vaccine, and with Unlock in progress, there is a need to be careful. Government should continue to invest in a world class healthcare infrastructure to increase the capacity of the hospitals and the medical personnel to deal with the pandemic. There is also the need to continue to increase testing. And this has to be done alongside the measures to reopen the economy. Considering the terrible state of economy, the union government can hardly afford to enforce yet another lockdown. The trick is to upgrade healthcare, enforce strict adherence to SOPs in public and running an advertisement blitz to create more awareness about the contagion. This could buy the government time before the vaccine is available. And which could be sooner than later. Health Ministry has asked the state governments to prepare a list of priority groups that would need to be vaccinated first. This list is supposed to be ready by the end of October. India hopes to vaccinate 20-25 crore people by July next year. So the coming few months are crucial. If the government is able to keep the daily caseload low, it would have more or less won half the war against coronavirus.

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