Grim COVID Scene


It looks impossible to contain the spread without a lockdown

DESPITE the daily surge in the numbers of infections and death due to COVID-19 the state government is dithering on imposing a lockdown that could help break the chain of spread of coronavirus, as the neighbouring states Maharashtra and Karnataka have done. The positivity rate in the state is over 35 percent. As of Monday, the state recorded nearly 80,000 confirmed cases of COVID, of which over 15,000 were active – corresponding to one percent of the state population. The state has recorded 1,055 deaths, of which 172 occurred during the last one week. The surge in COVID cases continues unabated. It is apparent that the measures adopted by the state government have failed to contain the rise. The health care system in the state is on the verge of collapse due to the rise in the number of patients requiring institutional health care. Though doctors and paramedical staff have managed to provide as much care as possible any further increase would lead to the situation becoming unmanageable, leading to higher positivity and mortality rates.

The purpose of lockdown is very clear: it breaks the chain of transmission of the virus. Its benefits are already seen in Maharashtra and Delhi. The numbers of cases in the two states recorded daily have come down. The positivity rate is showing a decline. Goa has a record of excellent health indices among the population, but the spread of COVID has severely dented it. The state government has to impose stricter restrictions in order to contain the spread, because the measures adopted by it have proven inadequate to check it. Imposition of stringent measures yielded good results when the lockdown was ordered in March last year as it helped contain the spread. Similar measures can go a long way in not only limiting the number of infections but also deaths. Chief Minister Pramod Sawant should take appropriate decisions on ordering a lockdown or imposing stringent measures that could restrain people from venturing out as the coronavirus is spreading like wildfire.

The government has been dithering on lockdown as it would hurt the state economy. However, a lockdown for a short time is better than long-term adverse impact of the coronavirus on the economy. Any delay on enforcing severe curbs could prove disastrous as a large section of Goan society could be affected by the virus and that could force businesses to shut down since there is every possibility of those commuting to work catching the virus. The state government is opposed to any lockdown because of economic considerations but it has to be noted that in case of people being affected by the disease the cost of hospitalisation and unfortunate deaths due to it could have a deep impact on families as well as the government. The authorities have to bear in mind that due to lockdown the chain of transmission of the virus can be broken as the movement of people can be restricted to a large extent. A partial lockdown has helped the Delhi government to bring the positivity rate down from nearly 40 percent to 30 percent.

The COVID situation is becoming grimmer day by day and the people at large are feeling helpless about how to protect themselves. As of now all the beds in the hospitals are occupied by COVID patients.  With more and more cases being detected every day, there would be no space to admit and treat new patients. Though additional buildings could be requisitioned and medicines procured, the government would find it impossible to find doctors to treat the patients. The medical staff is already over stressed and a number of them have been found to be COVID positive and rendered out of action. The scenario could be even dangerous as more people get infected by the disease, with many of them succumbing because of lack of health care facilities and personnel. Such a situation can be avoided by ordering a lockdown in order to save lives. Goa’s COVID management strategy has relied entirely on the curative side. That has put its health care system on the brink. The strategy has to shift to stricter restrictions.