ICMR-led serosurvey results are heartening, but India cannot afford to lower its guard against Covid 19
New Delhi, July 21:It is heartening to note that about 68 percent of Indians above the age of 6 years have developed Covid antibodies and may be out of serious risk of coronavirus infection. The ICMR-led latest national serosurvey which showed this result must, however, not lead us to complacency in adhering to Covid appropriate behavior. People have begun to display errant attitudes after a lull following the second surge. The Government must take control of the situation if the third wave is to be avoided.
Going by the survey, about 40 crore people are still in a high risk category. This is a big number. They are far too many to infect others if the mutant virus escapes the antibodies as has happened in a large number of cases in several countries. Reports suggest fresh cases are mounting in the US and UK despite the majority of the adult population having been vaccinated. The US began to lift restrictions rather early. Wearing of masks has been made voluntary, for example. Hotels and restaurants are now running at full capacity. Curbs have been relaxed even in subways. So was the case in UK which also started doing away with curbs after cases began to come down. Now both countries are beginning to show a rise in positive cases. India must take lessons from them.
Keeping a delicate balance between opening up and restrictions is not easy for the Government already under pressure of a hurtling economy. The silver lining, however, remains that people in metros like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, etc are by and large cautious having experienced the worst during the deadly second wave. A little effort on the part of authorities will make them observe Covid norms. These cities have been super spreaders recently. Curiously, the state governments themselves are becoming lax. Imagine Kerala, which has been consistently reporting a high number of cases, gave in to populist pressure during the Bakrid festival allowing large gatherings. This is despite the Supreme Court advising the administration not to do so. Earlier, the UP government insisted on going ahead with Kanwar yatra. Good sense prevailed finally, thanks to Supreme Court’s intervention. It is a matter of shame that Kerala which prides itself on being the most literate state failed to act wisely.
Indeed, a third wave may come more due to governance deficit than people’s mistakes. It is time the Delhi Government wakes up too. Merely by shutting a few markets for a day or two as punishment for not observing Covid’s appropriate behavior it cannot claim to have done enough. Enforcement personnel must be deployed in major markets on a daily basis, along with a good police presence. Only this would deter the errant behavior. Established shops, big or small, appear manageable. Problematic is the roadside vendors, sitting or standing, who attract the crowd easily. These poor vendors have been on the receiving end ever since Covid began. Unfortunately, the law enforcers are seriously handicapped to deal with them.
Let us hope and pray there will be no third wave, as indicated by the latest serosurvey. At the same time, let the authorities make full preparations to manage it in case it comes as feared by some experts.
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