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Staying Alert

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The United States is facing its ‘fourth Covid wave’ with the number of cases rising, children getting infected, hospitals having to function beyond capacity. It is planning to give booster vaccination shots to the elderly eight months after their earlier ones. ‘Breakthrough’ cases are being reported at many places. Cases are also up in countries as far apart as Britain and Japan. India seems to have plateaued at a certain number, which is refusing to decline. With the state of Kerala continuing to lead the race, it is natural to be concerned about a viral comeback. Thus far, scientists have not been able to identify why Covid remains out of control. Adding to the misery is the fact that the government there seems unable to take the hard decisions necessary to curb the spread, despite repeated exhortations from the Centre.

All of this poses a threat to the advances made in other states, particularly of the North. On Wednesday, Uttarakhand passed a happy milestone when the district of Bageshwar managed to give first dose vaccination to its entire population. Ditto for the Khirsu Block in Pauri District. The overall figures for the state are good although the occasional death is taking place. But, with the bad situation elsewhere, how long before things take a turn for the worse? It becomes imperative, therefore, to ensure that the guard is not let down in any way. The pace of vaccination may be good in the state, but that does not mean the other precautions should be discarded, as is being seen in the markets. The government and the citizenry cannot afford to relax, because the consequences of failure will be devastating, particularly to the economy.

The elections are due in Uttarakhand early next year, for which political parties have begun preparations already. This means rallies and gatherings involving large numbers. No party will be seen lagging behind the others in this show of force. The lack of precautions can already be seen, giving rise to the fear that this could well become the next superspreader. It becomes important, therefore, for all responsible citizens to build pressure on the government and the Election Commission regarding enforcement of protocols. Sacrifices will have to be made for the people’s well-being. Electioneering can be done in other ways, particularly over the media and the internet. Debates in controlled environments should take the place of public speeches – they would actually prove more informative. Uttarakhand should set an example for the rest of the country in this regard for the betterment of all.