India touched the 200 crore vaccinations mark on Sunday, at a time when there is a creeping rise in the number of Covid cases and deaths. Some experts are of the opinion that it could be the beginning of a ‘fourth wave’. Even Uttarakhand is recording a rise in numbers. These contrasting statistics indicate that India is suffering from a dangerous complacency, as most people have stopped taking even the most basic precautions necessary.
The government is doing what it can and has recently made free booster shots available to all between the ages of 18 and 59 years. However, the behaviour of the public as though the danger is over can create complications and lead to the return of restrictions, including localised lockdowns. Having endured the economic impact of such measures people should be more careful.
People should not believe that the impact of Covid is over – much of the present disruption in the world economy is the result of the pandemic and Sri Lanka is a more extreme example. Small states in India such as Uttarakhand should be more careful as they too have economies limited to a few sectors such as tourism. As such, state governments should not be looking to the Centre for remedial action. They should preemptively take the basic measures to ensure there is no return of the disease.
Much of these would be simple ones people had got quite used to, such as social distancing, hand sanitisation, wearing of masks, avoiding crowds, etc. Cinema halls, restaurants, malls and other public places should, once again, enforce the necessary protocols. These are by now proven ways of containing Covid – even better than harsh measures such as lockdowns. People with health vulnerabilities should also be particularly careful. The Chardham and Kanwar Yatras need to be strictly regulated from this point of view. Responsible public behaviour will not only ensure there is no return of a ‘wave’ but also demonstrate how much the solutions are in people’s hands. Not everything needs to be left to the governments.