It is conspicuous that India is facing the merciless onslaught of COVID-19 cases. Truly, India is in its darkest days of the pandemic, but there may be still darker days to come. It is surveyed that one in three new infections are globally occurring in the country. COVID cases are higher in numbers, and India is pushing a world record for more than three lakhs daily. It is propelling the global pandemic. It indicates a grave threat to the economic and social well-being of the Indian people. Unfortunately, the political leaders have been too slow and basically failed to take the outbreak seriously. Lately, they are realizing the gravity of the task at hand. Restrictions, lockdowns and curfews are extending and expanding, yet India is always one step behind the virus. India’s extant catastrophic state of affairs, by all means necessitate and demand effective intervention with much more rigorous and extensive action.
Paucity of data
The grim situation of India in the aftermath of the second COVID-19 wave, has turned all to tizzy and topsy-turvy. It has become difficult to understand the true scope of this disaster. The health bulletin shows New Delhi’s COVID-19 positive test rate has climbed above 30%. Currently, it is taking three tests to diagnose one positive patient, it means that we are likely missing many infections. Indeed, it is quite disheartening to see the number of infections mounting above 10 lakhs daily. And the number of deaths taking place, sometimes it is not documented. The official statistics presented by the Delhi Health department reports 2,000 fatalities daily. Undeniably, the true number again is much higher. All the newspapers report that with novel coronavirus death rate continues to rise in Delhi. The public health departments of the municipal corporations are directed to increase COVID cremation capacity to tackle an inflow of 1,000 bodies a day. Recently, Times of India reported that Delhi is witnessing a 15% rise in funerals every day. It is also surveyed that one crematorium in Delhi has gone from managing 20 bodies daily to 100.
Steps to control
Addressing the present crisis, the Supreme Court said that it is ‘National Emergency’. The centre should come out with an effective action plan to tackle the crisis. Sure enough, it requires serious intervention and closer examination; and the national policies for the security of public health need urgent and immediate attention.
India needs an upsurge of testing and enough oxygen cylinders supply to treat the COVID patients. India should increase its testing rates several times over, with the goal of getting the positivity rate under a certain percentage. The nation has the capacity and resources to safeguard the Nation amid COVID-19 surge. Sadly, the Government has not made enough of a priority.
NITI Aayog said that it is no longer enough to wear masks outdoors. The time has come to wear it at home as well. It can serve the purpose enormously in curbing the spread of the COVID infections. Wearing a mask must be mandatory. It is globally advised, too.
We are all going through unprecedented suffering and crisis therefore all major indoor and outdoor events, including rallies, religious festivals and ceremonies, weddings etc., should be banned. It is the need of the hour. It is essential, too. If these given directives by the Government are not strictly observed, the nation will be too far for any hope of bringing this outbreak under control; and it will also aggravate the impact of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is believed, India’s pandemic will finally come to an end if enough Indians are vaccinated. Vaccines can help to control the spread of the virus. But the Indian administration should understand the key is ensuring the country has enough vaccines. Regrettably, the country is in shortage of vaccine jabs. In fact, the government needs to work seriously with manufacturers like the Serum Institute, or even purchase it from other countries. Indian government needs somehow to drive production higher.
Loss and insecurity
Amid political and social handling of the COVID-19 pandemic millions of Indians are struck by persisting issues of food insecurity, too. The nature and handling of the pandemic has not only caused loss in nutrition but loss of jobs and lower incomes and the persistent struggle of migrants, too. Even the middle class has shrunk in great numbers. The Centre assured to restart the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) with 5 kg of rice/wheat per person per month for the next two months. This is not enough. The Government should provide similar support and other nutritious items for stabler longer periods and meanwhile potential schemes could be explored to get grips with unemployment, food and health insecurity etc. This stipulates serious commitment.
A ray of hope
Certainly, the Asian country is reeling under a contemporary wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. All of us are all experiencing the worst days of the pandemic. People have lost their family members, friends, and dear and near ones. These traumatic experiences are overwhelming everyone with qualms and worries. On the other hand, we cannot deny the fact about administrative and governance fatigue, poor political choices, poor communications, and neglect of public health principles. Many celebrated and sounded the trumpet that India had “beaten the virus” even without knowing how and why. At this crushing moment, there are a lot of things expected of each individual to protect oneself and one’s family and the country at large. But political leaders and the entire administration should do much more at grassroots level.
There is a beam of hope in such a trial period of fears and deaths; we know that the persisting, devastating and appalling situation can be put to an end, and we too know how to do so. We know that medicine and social science are two pillars of public health. Therefore, we need to prioritize the common good of the nation keeping away all our differences and collectively concentrate on public health measures, medical solutions, flow of vaccinations, universal masking, and coherent management across public health efforts. Similarly, other issues like food and nutrition insecurity, endless struggle of migrant labour exodus, loss of jobs, low incomes etc., are matters of concerns, they cannot be overlooked, they need to be given equal attention. Doing so, I envisage the lives of millions can be salvaged from COVID-19 wreaking havoc and India can begin normal life soon.
- –Veronica Celene Pallan, BJMC