The Union government’s decision to move from lockdown to “Unlock 1.0”, which would limit the restrictions on normal activity only to containment zones from June 8, is bound to evoke mixed response.
Those who have been passionately engaged in fighting the pandemic Covid-19 with the hope of saving the millions of Indians would find it baffling as we are far away from winning the battle and that it could even undermine whatever has been achieved in the last two months.
Those who believe that the nation cannot afford to remain stagnant under crippling conditions would heave a sigh of relief as it would help kickstart the economy which has already been in a decline.
The pattern of government action on the Covid containment front looks like that of telling the people to come to terms with the virus and that it has plans to control the infection only in the hotspots.
If that’s true, then it’s time the government made public its assessment of what the nation has achieved through the tough measure, announced on March 24, giving people just a few hours before the nation went to a statue mode.
This is because the human cost of the lockdown is too high to ignore as it triggered the trekking home by millions of guest workers who lost their job, shelter and hope; many of them died in the process.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had assured the nation that the battle of Kurukshetra was won in 18 days and the war against coronavirus would be won in 21 days. Experts had assured us that the nation would flatten the curve of infection spread during the lockdown period.
The Niti Aayog, the government think tank, was even confident in talking up a mathematical model, which would have the infection touching zero by mid-May.
But as it stands today, none is talking about the curve as the number of infections and deaths is going up every day. An honest stock-taking would help the nation plan for the future better as no one has a case that the lockdown did not help at all.
There are states such as Kerala, which made full use of the measure and rolled out a fool-proof strategy of contact tracing, screening, testing, isolating and treating infected people and reaped a rich harvest.
The number of infections has of late gone up but that’s largely of people coming from outside; there is nothing suggest that there is community spread or uncontrolled local spread.
The rising number of infections across the nation and the uncertainty about the future cannot be what we had bargained for when we entered the lockdown period.
The government should at least now think of taking the successful models to the worst affected cities and states and launch an honest effort to contain the virus.
It must also rethink its decision to allow the opening up of places of worship, which would attract people in their thousands and it would be a challenge to enforce social distancing norms in such places. We need not reinvent the wheel, just roll them intelligently....