A Cautious Hope

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Observing safety norms during upcoming religious festivals

IT is heartening to note that the number of new coronavirus cases and deaths is declining in the country. The statistics released by the authorities over the last three weeks indicate that the spread of the coronavirus has almost flattened in most of the states. The numbers of new cases have fallen sharply in recent weeks and the authorities are even claiming that the worst as far as coronavirus is concerned is over for India. However, the increase in five states (Kerala, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal) is a cause of concern for the national and state health authorities. According to Niti Aayog member, V K Paul, India is in a much better position now than it was three weeks ago. However, he thinks that the country still has a long way to go because 90 per cent of the people are still susceptible to coronavirus infection. The authorities have sounded that caution should be observed by one and all to ensure that there was no resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the country.

What is worrying for the national and state health authorities is the reluctance of the people to adhere to strict safety measures during the festive season. Kerala, which had managed to contain the spread of coronavirus for months, paid a heavy price when it lowered the guard during the Onam festival leading to resurgence of COVID-19 cases in huge numbers. The state went on to record the highest numbers of cases post Onam and is still struggling to deal with the spread. West Bengal appears to be next in line as it is also witnessing a sharp rise in the number of cases as people venture out of houses during the Dussehra. In a few days from now people in West Bengal and across North India will be celebrating Dussehra, Diwali and other festivals, with the risk that they are likely to give a miss to the safety measures as they celebrate. The onset of winter during which many diseases crop up combined with pollution levels rising could result in a spike in coronavirus cases.

Health experts have not ruled out the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19 cases in the country as has been the case in many countries in Europe, where the authorities have reimposed restrictions following a spurt in the number of cases after a lull for months. As not much is known yet about the novel coronavirus, the experts are not sure how it would behave in the changing weather. They want people to behave responsibly during the festive season and winter months to keep the virus at bay. Paul has gone on record to state that the coming months were a challenge to the authorities and the people. The country has managed to bring down the number of fresh coronavirus cases but complacency on the part of the governments and the people could lead to loss of the gains achieved over the past few months. The increase in COVID-19 cases in some European nations has been attributed to people not adhering to safety norms and compromising their health by being reckless.

The coronavirus pandemic has played havoc across the world and the governments around the globe are not sure whether the worst is over or not in view of the resurgence of cases in several parts. The woes have been compounded by non-availability of a cure for the disease. While the vaccine against COVID-19 is likely to be rolled out by early next year it may take quite a long time for it to reach every part of the world and every person. In such a situation it would be better to protect oneself from contracting the virus and save oneself, and one’s family and friends from the infection of the virus. People in many parts of the world, including India, had subdued celebrations of festivals and national occasions in view of the coronavirus pandemic. It is for the people to adhere to the norms of safety while observing and participating in festivities. Let us hope that they maintain restraint during the coming festivals to be able to survive for bigger celebrations in the years ahead.