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At the onset of Unlock 2.0, which enunciates more eased in activities to revamp economic momentum and fewer restrictions with decentralization of powers locally and judiciously to exercise for deterrence at a time when the country's tally of confirmed coronavirus cases is fast inching towards a million mark, while the death toll is about to touch the 25,000 mark placing India at 3rd worst hit globally. Timely lockdown seems to have helped India fight COVID-19. It has been able to control the spread with fatalities less than 15 for every 1 million people in India compared too many developed nations.
Lockdown as an effective tool has been experimented across the globe to contain the unprecedented Pandemic, while there is a debate on the term Pandemic, there is a school of thoughts which says asymptomatic carriers are not really contagious, a recent study says the virus doesn't spread easily in other ways i.e. touching contaminated objects or surfaces, further a group of researchers have been trying to put forward about the virus being airborne. Everything said and done direct contact with people has the highest likelihood of getting infected-being close to an infected person. The submicroscopic microbes have affinity and propensity for density to spread or transmit in places where many people are living or working in proximity. The virus travels through droplets when talking or coughing, an individual doesn't need to feel sick or show symptoms to spread or transmit. Thus the basic preventive precautions like physical distancing, wearing mask, isolation and hygiene should be adhered to strictly as directed by WHO. India as a nation has to evolve immensely to change and adapt to the social behaviours of safety and hygiene. Swachata is a way of life which is being pushed by the Government but there is a strong gap in the intent, delivery and adherence. There are not enough public amenities for disposal also the regulations are not stringent hence we find people peeing & spitting around everywhere creating danger to public health and hygiene, there has to be a strong sense of ownership and social responsibility amongst all stakeholders; public & administration to be safe.
Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam, the former President of India also known as the missile man in his book "India 2020: A Vision for New Millennium" envisaged transforming the nation into a developed country, five areas in combination have been identified based on India's core competence, natural resources and talented manpower integrated action to double the growth rate of GDP and realized the vision of developed India.There has to be a joint effort with Caution, Care & Compassion to manage and combat COVID-19, everyone should be encouraged to participate & contribute transparently and fairly to the process of resurgence for Atmanirbhar India. Democracy dies in darkness hence please quarantine politicizing the pandemic for someone's benefit or to be misinterpreted for others in this challenging times.The entire community and society stands with the Government leadership & machinery, we the people are indebted with gratitude & blessings for the selfless spirit of the people in the frontline - healthcare, police, administration, media, essential services, transport etc., for their spirit and relentless service in the biggest crisis of humankind.
The time period of the lockdown has been used diligently to understand and strategize, to ramp up health infrastructure, to restrict social gatherings and fight the pandemic to save human lives .The lockdown has had a cascading effect as well, locked in has given a new perspective in re-strategizing one's profession, career or business model. Sprawling office cabins have been shifted to work from home, education delivery & learning has become online, seminars have gone virtual to webinars, Netflix and Amazon Prime substitutes for Multiplexes, window shopping is limited to ecommerce sites, healthcare and doctor consultation has been made accessible with teleconsultation or telemedicine, restaurant hopping is more enjoyable with people trying hands in crafting new dishes, outdoor activities are restricted to have fun inside own premise, people are having more quality time with family, networking, learning, honing new skills and professing their passions which were left to lurch. But in contrast, the lockdown has led to precarious situations and brought many challenges to lives and livelihood across sectors and age groups, businesses to migrant workers, professionals to students, children's to elderly, physical to mental health, uncertainty to depressions, fatigue and burnouts. The crisis has actually brought in the sense of togetherness, the urge of doing & giving, people across have shown great resilience to volunteer for the cause and been empathetic in reaching out to the needy.
The people of Assam have been going through testing times with incessant rain, flood, landslides, storm, erosions, earthquakes affecting them across the state with displacing dwellers, death etc., along with the ongoing unprecedented war against corona. Guwahati, the hub of all economic activities of the Northeast region, has witnessed the rapid surge of corona infections without any travel history which has been predicted largely as social transmission, the fear of social transmission is also shrouding other parts of the state hence the lockdown has been re-imposed to contain the transmission.
The myth of lockdown and night curfew is to ensure social distancing which enables to break the chain and prevent transmission but in reality people in general don't just care which was evident on the pre-lockdown shopping carnival also with easing of lockdown wherein people are often seen flouting rules & directives, turning daredevil as if they are indulging in the last meal.
The myth is plummeting disposable income but in reality the Guwahati urbanites seem to break all rules with thumping crowd for the lockdown fests, thus black marketing incognito with skyrocketing prices. The administration seemed to have turned blind and deaf towards such practices making it unaffordable & difficult, especially for the downtrodden daily-wage earners.
The myth is COVID-19 seems dreadful but in reality the discharge or recovery rate is more than 63% and the morbidity rate is around .23% which are amongst the best nationally, hence need to raise loud alarm on the preventive measures and create awareness about the number of patients who have recovered from coronavirus infection to get people out of 'stigma due to fear of getting infected'.
The myth is people are panicky of COVID-19 within security marked by lockdown, but the reality is false propaganda that are making inroads, fear of loss in man-days, loss of business opportunities along with the uncertainty looming on students curriculum & career, hence thrusts should be on economic momentum in encouraging investments, regulatory reforms, smart education policy, increase employment opportunities, livelihood in an all-inclusive model.
The emergence of COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to fear, uncertainty, apprehension, rumours and misinformation which has led to a widespread stigma, resulted in social boycotting many times leading to severe stress & suicide at times. The superhero-like treatment while escorting the corona warriors or the fugitive treatment after death has been hyped out of proportion with harassment which has spurred panic and distress. Whenever we find a person infected with COVID-19 in our network and who is in quarantine, isolation or in hospital we should not make him or her or their family shameful or guilty but respect them and pray for speedy recovery. The disease is curable not by disgrace and humiliation but by empathizing and helping each other in hard times to overcome and lead a new normal. We need to rise above to de-stigmatize by standing together, clear the air on the differences, stop discrimination, labeling and targeting a particular person, caste or community by holding them responsible for being a carrier or the spread of the infection. COVID-19 is treatable and will heal but the stigma and trauma left behind will linger – today it might be they and them, tomorrow it can be you and me.
The pandemic though will have a poignant reminder evoking uncertainty and gloom amongst generations but would also unfold many unparalleled, unprecedented events & stories to narrate, ponder and cherish. There is much need to raise an army of volunteers from all walks of life, young and retired, students & professionals, NGO and civic society participating & supporting the administration in carrying out the right information, campaigns and projects effectively for the benefit of the society at large. Community policing should be encouraged, empowered and practiced more rigorously wherein the people from the neighborhood & society participate in the system as moral police and keep a watch around their locality with an intention to maintain peace and tranquility, safety and hygiene.