Saturday, May 25, 2024

Be prepared

The last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic have left behind scars and lessons that need to be learnt. Many have lost their livelihood and many others have suffered loss to their businesses. It also impacted health of almost every individual. And with this cost that we collectively paid it is imperative that we learn the lesson; both at individual level and collectively as a society as a system; both at social level and also at administrative level. This is more important in view of the third wave of the virus Omicron that is slowly hitting our part of the world with increasing cases of COVID-19 positive cases being reported daily. This is similar to the pattern that we observed in the first and second wave of the pandemic. The situation in our state has become such that the State Health Department has issued an advisory that those with fever, cold-like/flu-like symptoms, etc. should be considered COVID-19 positive unless tested negative. Earlier we did not know what exactly we need to do and how we should respond to the pandemic. But this time we have some experience at our back. We know the predator, we know how it behaves and we know how to keep it away. Our response therefore must be in accordance with the experience we have got at such a high cost. One lesson that has been learnt beyond doubt is that shutting down everything; every economic, human activity has proved fatal. It has proved disastrous both to the livelihood of vulnerable sections of the society and also to the economy. Our past experience has proved that shutting down every other activity of life and locking up people or restricting their movement may not be wholly helpful. This strategy has caused more damage than any good. We need to realize that people first need to earn their bread in order to survive. They need to live before attempting to keep death at bay. COVID-19 alone is not after one’s life. There is nothing that can compensate for the loss suffered. But for future, such losses may be prevented or at least better managed. For this primary responsibility, as usual, rests with the administration. They need to keep themselves well prepared before any misfortune strikes. Gearing up and formation of quick and adequate response mechanisms need to be well sorted out beforehand. Desperate measures in the midst of the storm do not fetch desired results except rhetoric, and panic. It needs to be understood that we cannot sit back and wait for the pandemic to pass. We shall have to live with it and sail through it. Our response therefore must be in sync with this reality. Both our social and economic activities need to go on alongside the measures to deal with the pandemic. Keeping in mind the collective survival of all, the rationalization of permissions to carry out economic activities should be the strategy rather than complete lockdowns. Imposing night curfews may be good but allowing uncontrolled crowd gatherings during day time frustrates the very purpose of curbing movement during night. Similarly gearing up of health care system is of utmost importance and that needs to be done well before time. Equally important is sensitization of other wings of the government to coordinate with the health care sector. Let no heath care worker be stopped while traveling to or coming from his/her duties as was experienced in the past years. Let there be arrangements for their safe and convenient travel as they are our front line warriors. Similarly, let no road be dug and no permanent/concrete barricades be built to block roads leading to habitations. That is not necessary and may prove fatal in case of any eventuality. Let nobody be harassed, or beaten for venturing out of their homes. Let there be a more humane approach. Let’s educate each other to understand the importance of getting vaccinated and wearing mask and maintaining physical distancing. Let’s have a more coordinated response to fight this war for our collective survival. Let’s be compassionate to our fellow men irrespective of all bases of prejudices and bias. Let’s learn our lessons early and let’s remember them for future.