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Unprecedented Response

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The outbreak and swift spread from China of Covid19, commonly known as the Corona Virus, has received a collective global response in terms of information exchange, sharing of responsibilities and setting up of protocols. The strong response within China has applied the brakes on it there and the primary objective is to ensure it does not spread to other regions and countries. Some countries like Italy, despite their small size and relatively superior systems, did not respond swiftly enough and are now facing a major outbreak. A large number of those afflicted are being cured and work is on to develop vaccines, as well as identify medicines that work on the virus. Overall, however, the collective response has been swift and unprecedented.

The worry, however, is that the problem will begin in highly populated countries such as India when the rest of the world will have got a handle on it. Thus far, India’s counter-measures have been exemplary, responding with full might of the state as the situation has evolved. The problem is that even a single slip-up can have dire consequences. Thus far, the infected persons are those who have been abroad or have been in contact with such persons. Community transmission has not yet begun and absolutely needs to be prevented. The strictest measures are required, it is believed, for such time that the weather warms up and the virus cannot survive.

The Prime Minister has stated it quite succinctly – ‘Be cautious, but do not panic’. The impact of the disease on the global economy has already been seen. Any pointless panic can only exacerbate an already difficult situation. State governments, too, have begun to play their role. Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat countered opposition charges on Friday with a detailed update on the measures taken by Uttarakhand. Schools have been closed down, large gatherings of any kind are being discouraged, in fact, the three year anniversary of the government will not witness public celebrations. Isolation wards have been set up in the state’s prominent hospitals and health officials trained in dealing with the disease.

There has been only one death in India, thus far, and many states do not have even a single patient. The protocol on avoiding infection is very simple – keep a safe distance from others, self- isolate if one has any kind of respiratory problem and contact a doctor, and regularly wash one’s hands. If the Indian people – unused to accepting orders or conforming; diehard public spitters and urinators – can abide by this simple discipline, the problem will be sooner averted. If they need any motivation, they should know that the economy will suffer severely with every day it takes longer to manage the disease.