The number of COVID-19 patients continues to rise in India by the day. Thursday saw the 9000 patients per day barrier being breached. While the pandemic remains unchecked in the states worst affected, such as Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi, etc., it is spreading its wings in others such as UP, Bihar and, also, Uttarakhand. Although the reasons for the spread are known, all the attempts to contain it are having little impact. Of course, increased testing and the presence of a large number of asymptomatic infected persons have a lot to do with the rising numbers. The important factor to note is the number of actual fatalities and those cured. In this, thankfully, the statistics give cause for optimism, although the ideal situation would, of course, be zero.
Now that the lockdown is perforce being wound down and new protocols put in place, it is inevitable that workplaces and markets will be the new areas where the virus will spread. It has already been seen that those involved in essential services have reported a high rate of infection. This would indicate that the seemingly high numbers at present will be considered conservative in the days to come. As such, it has become imperative that people be made to understand the urgency of taking the necessary precautions, particularly at this stage. Already, in many ways, the medical and other facilities have already been overwhelmed by the increasing numbers, despite the claims of various governments to the contrary. This is also taking a toll tangentially, such as people succumbing to deficient arrangements at places where they have been quarantined. This is particularly so in Uttarakhand, where the lag in obtaining test results is fast outpacing the existing capacity. What will happen when the problem really escalates?
All this needs to be pointed out to the people without hesitation so that there is no sense of complacency. Already, with the easing of the lockdown, people congregating for various reasons, particularly youngsters, has become a common sight. They have to be made to realise that they might feel healthy but could transmit the virus to more susceptible sections of society, especially in their families. This is a recipe for disaster. It becomes, therefore, the duty of the media of every kind to keep the pandemic in central focus, instead of reducing every event and issue to a reason for political combat and ‘I told you so’ posturing.