Ray Of Hope

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THERE has been some drop in the number of daily coronavirus cases in the country over the last few days. On Sunday India reported 240,842 new infections nationwide over 24 hours, the lowest daily number in more than a month, and 3,741 deaths. Already New Delhi has decided to start relaxing its strict coronavirus lockdown next week if its new cases continue to drop. In Jammu and Kashmir too, the fresh cases have witnessed a conspicuous drop. From upwards of 5000 until a week ago, the cases are down to 3,308 in the last 24 hours. The death toll, however, remains high with 51 new fatalities caused by Covid-19, and again a majority of them are from Jammu division.

The decline in cases in the country has followed the meteoric rise over the last three months, with daily caseload hovering around over four lakh. There is no easy explanation for the reduction in numbers. The ongoing lockdown is supposed to have played a role. 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.

Be that as it may, the decline in numbers is a positive development. There is hope now that the daily caseload will progressively reduce like last year. But the consequent improvement in the situation would mean little if there is no corresponding expansion in the vaccination. Government also needs 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 the economy, the state governments across India can hardly afford to extend the lockdown. The trick is to upgrade healthcare, expedite vaccination, enforce strict adherence to SOPs in public and running an advertisement blitz to create more awareness about the contagion.

In J&K, the situation on the vaccination front is bleak. The administration has failed to step up the drive. In the last week, there was almost no vaccination in the valley for three days. More so, at a time when due to the virulence of the second wave, people are coming forward to get jabs. The vaccine hesitancy that had earlier held back the inoculation drive has now given way to a frantic race to get vaccinated. And understandably so. The inoculation is now the only credible defence against the contagion. And sooner the government vaccinates people against the infection, earlier we could return to a normal life.

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