The number of Covid deaths is rising across the world, according to the WHO. Closer home, the decline in cases has plateaued and there is a small creep up every now and then that does not augur well for the coming days. Kerala is setting records by recording up to forty percent of India’s cases. It would be right to say, therefore, that the anticipated ‘third wave’ is on its way.
However, since India has had the experience of being caught by surprise, it would be reasonable to assume that the necessary skill-sets have been developed to prevent the devastation that the second wave caused. While the lessons may have been learned, it is clear that – at the level of the states – the required political will is lacking. And although some states may seem to be doing better, there is no clear trajectory to show this is entirely because of administrative measures. Strict lockdowns have been the one measure that has obviously worked but these can only be implemented as the last option.
It is the same in Uttarakhand, where there is a small uptick in cases. It is one of the states where there is a large number of tourist arrivals and can, therefore, be affected by conditions elsewhere. If it has to revive its economy, it cannot afford to completely cut itself off. As such, it requires much more sophisticated handling. The decision to re-open schools and colleges emerges from the improved conditions thus far, but any rise in numbers could put paid to that. It remains important, therefore, to energetically follow the Centre’s test, track, treat and vaccinate guidelines. There can be no laxity in this regard. There is also need to be able to interpret the data smartly enough to undertake the micro-containment measures necessary, particularly isolation and treatment of new cases. With the Delta variant being more infectious, awareness needs to be generated on greater caution among all and sundry.
With most of the major hospitals having been upgraded to deal with the expected wave, the next step should be to provide better facilities to sub-district and tehsil level hospitals. Early identification and treatment of cases, including in home isolation, has proven an effective counter to the virus. This should be taken right down to the village level. This approach will establish fire-walls just as effective as vaccinations. It would be terrible that, after knowing what needs to be done, laxity in approach should create a crisis again. That would be unbearable for the people.