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Critical Stage


On the face of it, there has been a distressing increase in the number of deaths in Uttarakhand from COVID-19. It reflects the surge in cases following the unlock process. It is clear that, despite the protocols being followed by the public and government (as best they can), the virus is managing to infect people. Considering so much of the state’s economy depends on the pilgrimage, tourism and education sectors, which require much social interaction, it becomes very necessary to develop more sophisticated methods to prevent spread of the infection. In different ways, the problem is the same in the rest of the country, indeed, the world.

A closer examination of the profile of fatalities in Uttarakhand reveals that the overwhelming majority of them are elderly persons, particularly those with comorbidities. This clearly indicates that particularly focusing on safety protocols for this section could cut down the mortality rate significantly. If even those patients are excluded who come from neighbouring towns of UP for treatment in Uttarakhand, those from within the state, at least, can be protected from getting the infection. It would be good if particular attention is paid by all concerned – the medical experts, government authorities and policy makers – to this problem. Of course, it would be good if the elderly keep themselves as protected as possible.

It has also been found, thus far, that the fear a shortage of ventilators would be the major problem in dealing with the pandemic has been unfounded. Only a small number of patients require such facilities and, now, the initial panic has receded to the point where asymptomatic patients are even being allowed to recover at home. The problem has been far more with providing decent quarantine and treatment wards for the patients so that they do not just simply run away out of disgust. It must be said that India has not been very successful in that, so far, which is why private hospitals have been able to profit. The situation would also improve if rapid testing becomes more widely available not just to identify patients, but also those that are free of the infection.

There seem to be indications that the surge expected after the unlocking began is now stabilising. Once the overall numbers peak having achieved geographical dimensions, they will begin to drop. Once again, it will be a time to be cautious, as complacency could sabotage the success. It must be said, though, that the best results will come when individuals interact with the world for the foreseeable future as micro containment zones of their own.