DC Edit | Responsiveness and will key to pushing back pandemic in India

Deccan Chronicle.

Opinion, DC Comment

India’s preparedness is going to be tested in the coming days, especially in the villages

One glimmer of hope is that the mortality rate is low and the recovery rate is high. AP Photo

It looks like India is entering one of the most difficult phases of the spread of the pandemic Covid-19.

The daily number of new infections has been bordering on 50,000 of late; deaths stand at 1,000 a day or more.

At least two states, Telangana and Kerala, have openly talked of community spread in certain areas, even though the Union ministry of health and family welfare has not yet endorsed the development.

Reports from across the country, especially the south, indicate that the virus, after pummelling the big cities, is headed for the villages.

It was expected that India, the second most populous nation, will face spiralling numbers despite the assurance by the leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, that a win over the virus was a question of a few days. And it is happening now.

One glimmer of hope is that the mortality rate is low and the recovery rate is high. Once the numbers spiral, community spread begins and the villages are impacted, then the scene could go for the worse.

World over, responsible governments regularly rework their strategies to contain coronavirus taking into account available information on the latest global experience.

But sadly, In India, such updating does not seem to be happening and the states are left to design their own plans, instead.

Even models that have been proved successful in the containment of the virus within the country have not been communicated across the states. The pattern Bhilwara and Dharavi followed successfully was to aggressively screen, test, isolate and treat.

However, such a plan is not followed in many states. Kerala, which resisted the progress of the pandemic in the early stages, has started slipping after people took it easy with quarantine and social distancing norms.

However, the state government has not yet decided to aggressively screen all the persons in the region where it suspects community spread.

Telangana’s director of health services blames “irresponsible people” for the sudden surge but the state government is accused of conducting lower number of testing.

The latest studies that a large number of people in Delhi were asymptomatic underscores the need for aggressive testing as such people could spread the infection.

When it started, even the medical community had little idea as to how to combat the pandemic but as days passed, the protocol for the treatment became more robust.

Doctors are now more confident about bringing even vulnerable people back to life. Testing has become cheaper and results come faster and more accurate.  

Such advancement must be made available to the people in the villages, too.

The cities have healthcare infrastructure, though it was overwhelmed in many places; the problem with the villages is that it does not exist in many places.

The long days of lockdown were supposed to be used to prepare ourselves for the peaking of the pandemic but there is little sign of it being done in any state.

India’s preparedness is going to be tested in the coming days, especially in the villages. The government must drop ad-hocism and turn to pragmatism.