Lockdown Is No Solution

UNLIKE Jammu and Kashmir, the weekend curfew in New Delhi has been lifted, along with restrictions at markets and malls. The government has permitted cinema halls and restaurants to reopen with 50 percent capacity. The guests at weddings have been capped at 200. Government offices will function at half the capacity. But educational institutions will remain closed, and the night curfew will continue.

This may also be because deaths and hospitalizations have been less in India even while caseload has skyrocketed. In Kashmir too, the third wave has been overwhelming, infecting possibly a majority of people but deaths and hospitalizations have been fewer in comparison.  According to a top US doctor Dr Faheem Younus the reason for low fatalities  and hospitalizations remaining low in India and Pakistan could be “low median age, baseline immunity due to vaccinations and previous COVID waves.” Dr Younus, in a sense, confirms that the Covid virus has become endemic in India and the people have largely developed some herd immunity against the disease. This is why surging caseload hasn’t clogged hospitals and created demand for oxygen. On Wednesday, 2,86,384 people tested positive for coronavirus infection taking India's total tally of COVID-19 cases rose to 4,03,71,500.

But encouraged by the low virulence, the governments across India have been lifting the lockdown. In J&K, however, the government is doing the opposite, almost imposing a lockdown for three days a week.  That too, there has been little impact of the ongoing wave on the healthcare infrastructure.

The needless lockdown has once again hit the businesses hard.  The economy that has been battered over the last over two years can't afford one more season of disruption. Over this period, the businesses could only reopen for a brief duration before being shut again, either because of political turmoil or due to Covid-19.  According to the Valley's business bodies, the lockdowns led to the loss of over Rs 50,000 crore in 2020 As a result,  the economy has grievously suffered. In  Kashmir, the impact has been most severe. Lakhs of people were rendered jobless or had their incomes slashed.

There's, therefore, no other option but to live with the pandemic now. More so, when it has apparently moderated now in its severity. That is the only answer to the unprecedented health crisis facing us and the world as a whole.

That said, people will need to be more responsible about their conduct outside the home. The use of face masks and sanitizers should be made mandatory till the time the world gets a grip on the disease. Primarily, the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic has to be fought by the people. They can choose to exercise caution in their public behaviour, wear masks and wash hands.

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