The Uttarakhand High Court has given a conditional go-ahead to the Char Dham Yatra in the state. This comes at a time when the number of Covid cases is not declining beyond a certain point in the country and Uttarakhand. In fact, there is an uptick in, both, cases and deaths every now and then. The virus is holding out strongly in Kerala, Karnataka and Maharashtra, as well as Mizoram in the North-East. Uttarakhand has seen a disconcertingly stubborn trend in the hill districts, which indicates that there is a reservoir of infection among the people that only higher rates of testing would identify. Also, with children returning to school, a rising number of cases have been reported among them in some states, which should not be allowed to go out of hand.
Under the circumstances, preventive steps need to be enhanced in Uttarakhand, along with close scrutiny of visiting tourists and, now, pilgrims. Most worrying is the fact that the festive season is approaching and a relaxed attitude could prove as devastating as in Kerala. Even worse, with elections around the corner, the very persons who should be leading the battle against Covid – the politicians – are already congregating in large numbers without adhering to the necessary precautions. It is possible that a situation could emerge requiring strict lockdowns. Whatever the impact on the people’s health, the economy will not be able to survive such a blow. It is absolutely imperative, therefore, that those most likely to be affected – the business people – should insist on strict adherence to Covid related precautions.
The only difference from before is the fact that a large number of people have been vaccinated, which ought to prove a bulwark against a comeback. That, however, is predicated on the premise that no new vaccination-proof variant emerges. So, the basics need to be continued with – speedier vaccination, increased testing and tracking, masking and social distancing. This is the most critical phase in the battle, particularly as there are already other challenges emerging that are even more deadly – such as the ‘mystery fever’ among children in UP. Take care, stay protected.