Fighting the pandemic

New rules of living are exacting, but inescapable

Fighting the pandemic

Photo for representation only. - File photo

ON March 24, when the Prime Minister announced a lockdown — two days after a ‘janata curfew’ that saw an overwhelming response — no one could have predicted that six months down the line, there would be a complete reversal of the objective: a thriving Covid-19, and a contracting economy. Gaining the capacity to accept the unimaginable has been one unintended consequence of half a year fighting the pandemic. Everyone has a coronavirus story — panic, anxiety, grief, quarantine, stigma, loss of livelihood, job cuts, income reduction, isolation, loneliness, even work from home. The long-haul nature of the virus is no more a scientific thesis, it is an accepted reality. The new rules of living are hard, but inescapable.

Decisions that impact the lives of billions require scrutiny and fixing of accountability, yet dealing with a once-in-a-century pandemic is a tough call. While most question the severity of the shutdown, some fail to comprehend the urgency to unlock trade and business activity. There are calls in some quarters for testing on a mass scale, and then there are those who would rather have only the symptomatic tested. Those less cautious seem reckless, the ones more cautious insane. The period since the first shutdown has shown which activities are the safest and which strategies work best. The government’s focus, too, has shifted from the number of infections to the recoveries. Ensuring a fall in the fatality rate is the new goalpost.

These six months have been stressful and demoralising. The worst is far from over. Sticking to the precaution and take-care-of-yourself regimen is the most dependable prescription. The global endeavour to get the virus under control has shown the limits of human intervention, and the perils of excesses. The vaccine will come sooner or later, the vaccination will take longer. The pandemic will be conquered one day. But all the misery and loss would have been futile if no lessons are learnt. The biggest one is fixing the healthcare system. No amount of money poured into that sector is enough.

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