Enforce SOP

THE Covid-19 pandemic is once again spreading like wilde fire with the country’s daily count crossing the 1-lakh mark for the first time since the contagion struck the nation last year. In just two weeks, Daily Covid-19 cases in India have increased fivefold to over one lakh from around twenty thousand. With every passing day, the pandemic is becoming a bigger health emergency. Since March 8, Covid-related deaths have risen at the same pace as the spike in infections, with the seven-day average of daily cases and .and deaths both surging by nearly 345 percent.

Maharashtra remained the worst-hit state with more than half of India’s total cases daily. The state has now imposed night curfew  and announced weekend lockdowns to get a handle on the runaway infection. The contagion is also spreading through states like Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu which are now also  announcing  night curfews and restrictions on the movement of people.  This has led to a demand for making Covid-19 vaccine accessible to all. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to remove the age bar for  vaccination. This is expected to expedite the inoculation drive in the country. There's no paucity of vaccines in the country as India has supplied them to many countries.

The government is also mulling measures to arrest the growing spread of the infection. On Thursday, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s will meet with state chief ministers and UTs administrators to discuss ways to contain the Covid-19 spike. But the choices before the PM aren't viable enough. For one, the fresh lockdown is now ruled out. Last year, the country-wide lockdown had cut the country's GDP growth by a whopping one-fourth. In real terms, this meant a loss of lakhs of jobs, ruining of businesses, migration of labour, etc. The economy is barely emerging from the recession and the government can hardly afford to undermine the recovery. One more lockdown will thus be disastrous. The only way out for the government is a strict implementation of the Standard Operating Procedure in public places, something that is not happening.

So, when the PM holds his scheduled meeting with the CMs, he needs to stress the enforcement of the SOPs by the governments. Not only that, the governments themselves have to lead by example. They can't be selective about enforcing the rules, much like in Kashmir where tulip garden is open and the government is holding cultural and music festivals but ensuring  that schools remain closed.

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