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Everybody’s Role

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The world’s response to the COVID-19 challenge is getting more sophisticated as greater information becomes available from the experience of countries that have been severely hit. In fact, it is China’s failure to inform other countries in time on what occurred on its territory is why the Pandemic managed to inflict so much damage. It was being hoped that scientists would be able to formulate a cure or come up with a vaccine in quick time but that not happened. As such, it is only precaution and prevention that governments and people are left with.

With India having overtaken Britain in the number of infected persons on Friday (2,97,535 positive cases), the focus will soon be on the manner of its response. The lockdowns were supposed to slow down, if not check the spread of the virus, so that state governments could make the necessary preparations. Some have done well and others not so well. Some, like Maharashtra, Gujarat and Delhi were hit so fast that they have found it difficult to find their feet. It has become clear that the thickly populated slums in cities like Mumbai, Surat, Delhi, etc., are particularly prone to the infection.

Faced also with the challenge of rebooting the economy, the strategy is now to contain the virus specifically in the areas it is found, rather than treat all places the same. Most importantly, unlike the ‘prescriptive’ approach so beloved of those who want the ‘government’ to do everything, the responsibility falls on every individual now to set up the invisible barricade made possible by wearing masks and sanitisation. Every such person would form a brick in the wall of the fort that will keep out the virus. The experience at a hair salon in the US, where none of a hundred and forty customers were infected despite two of the barbers being positive, indicates the effectiveness of preventive measures properly taken.

After more than three months of the lockdown, almost everybody in the country is now aware of the need to wear a mask. There are many examples to be seen of people adhering strictly to social distancing. The problem, however, is with the ones that are refusing to do so. The administration, police and general populace must enforce this practice strictly, simply because this is the magic talisman that can protect lives. This would allow the frontline warriors to focus on the areas where such distancing is not possible and early diagnosis and cure is the only option. This is a contribution to the fight that everybody can and should make.