It is a sad fact that, despite the propaganda campaigns by some, no country in the world has been able to get on top of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. There is the island nation of New Zealand that has managed to contain it, but only by totally isolating itself from the world. Once the opening up process begins, it will take very little for a return of the contagion, as has happened in Beijing. The consensus around the world now is that people will have to learn to live with it, meaning thereby that they will need to adopt personal ‘lockdown’ protocols. Basically, opening up the economies has become inevitable.
Some success through such measures has been seen in the hard hit slum of Dharavi in Mumbai. It is a good beginning that could lead to turning the situation around in the cities of Mumbai and Delhi. In this context, Uttarakhand too is opening up and every effort is being made to do so in as disciplined a manner as possible. It is being seen, however, that some sections of society from among the better off classes, particularly, are adopting a casual approach towards physical distancing, wearing masks and other precautions. This is especially so among the youth, who have the greatest potential to become asymptomatic carriers that may infect elderly members of their families. In such a situation, it is extremely important that attention be paid to keeping awareness high on the danger being by no means over.
The challenges ahead are many – opening up of schools and colleges, holding examinations, getting the restaurants, malls and cinema halls going, as well as sports activities. The fact that hurried return to the tennis courts has led to the world’s top players getting infected can only hinder the prospects of things returning to normal. The decision makers are being overwhelmed by the quantity of data that is streaming out from all kinds of ‘authoritative’ sources, basically providing statistical models on what is marginally more effective than others. Medicines are being used on an entirely experimental basis even though they are meant for other ailments and bound to have side-effects. Under such circumstances, the clampdown on the remedies being offered by Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali is very strange. Instead, the government should try them out just as it has with plasma therapy. There will be enough number of patients willing to be tested on. At worst it may prove ineffective; at best it may be the miracle everybody has been waiting for.