Strengthen Prevention

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Government needs to take effective measures to check spread of virus 

GOA recorded 636 fresh cases of COVID-19 and 10 deaths linked to the disease on Wednesday, the highest ever since the first case was reported in the state on March 25 this year. Chief Minister Pramod Sawant is among those tested positive. The total number of COVID-19 cases on Wednesday stood at 18,642 and the number of deaths at 204. The state recorded the highest number of cases on two consecutive days (September 1 and 2). The rise in the number of coronavirus positive cases is on the lines as forecast by the state health authorities. The rise indicates that the virus is prevalent all over the state and has affected a large number of people and the infection threatens to spread among even a larger number. The increase also shows that the preventive measures taken by the government to mitigate the impact of the virus have not been effective.

The increase in COVID-19 cases in the state is not unique; it  is happening all over the country. India recorded 83,883 new COVID cases, the largest ever number across the globe so far, and 1,043 deaths on Thursday. The total number of coronavirus positive cases in the country now stands at more than 38.53 lakh. With the current trajectory India is slated to overtake Brazil and become the country with the second highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world by the weekend or early next week. The big increase should set alarm bells ringing for the central and state governments. They need to work out newer strategies to deal with the emerging situation. The authorities have sought to blame the people for not adhering to the guidelines issued by them to contain the spread of the virus, which is true to some extent. However, it has to be noted that there was poor enforcement of the guidelines on the ground, which left scope for violations by people, fuelling spikes in COVID-19 cases. Though the authorities cautioned the people against indulging in festivities by breaking the protocols in place to limit the spread of coronavirus, it is apparent that not all are taking the restrictions seriously. The increase has been attributed to people ignoring social distancing norms when they were celebrating festivals in recent times.

Though India has been recording very high numbers of COVID cases, with 1.76 percent fatalities as against the global average of 3.3 percent, the country has managed to keep the rate under check. However, with the virus reaching across the length and breadth of the country, particularly the rural areas with inadequate health facilities, the scenario could change dangerously. The authorities have to gear up to face the scenario. It remains to be seen how they manage to deal with the surge anticipated to peak in about two weeks from now in saving the lives of people. With the restrictions on interstate movement removed by the MHA for economic reasons, it is unlikely that physical distancing can be enforced in totality. The persons who are asymptomatic or with mild symptoms can be placed under home quarantine. However, the governments have to prepare themselves in a big way to meet the contingency in the rural areas. The central and state governments have to give equal or more importance to preventive measures, for that would reduce the burden on the curative infrastructure. This calls for scaling up testing, stricter enforcement of the safety norms and people’s voluntary efforts to observe the norms.

While the government directed that people should use masks to protect themselves from contracting the virus, they forgot that lowered income due to the coronavirus has affected the  poorer sections of the society hugely. Many of them cannot afford to buy masks. It would have been better if the government had supplied the masks to poor people to help them protect themselves. The enforcement of law, wherever done, has been too rigid and the poor people out to make a living have had to face the brunt. The government on its part is also responsible for spreading the coronavirus by not providing adequate public transport to people, making it impossible for passengers to adhere to social distancing norms. It should increase the number of buses.