Stick to lockdown

Citizens’ cooperation critically important to fight Covid

Stick to lockdown

ON March 14, Italians clapped and sang from their balconies in a goodwill gesture to boost the morale of their overstretched doctors and nurses. In Rome’s San Giovanni neighbourhood, banners were hung from buildings with optimistic slogans such as ‘Everything is going to be fine’. Unfortunately, the situation has only worsened in the country worst hit by coronavirus, with over 4,000 deaths reported in just a week, taking the total to about 5,500. On March 22, amid the Janata Curfew, Indians did all the clapping — along with clanging of utensils and blowing of conch shells — to express gratitude to health workers and other essential service providers. Some overenthusiastic citizens even poured out on the streets, disregarding the PM’s appeal to stay put at home and maintain social distancing.

In Pilibhit (UP), for instance, the District Magistrate and the Superintendent of Police themselves led a procession, ringing bells and blowing shells. Later, the district police claimed that the march was carried out to tell local residents to avoid stepping out of their homes, but this explanation found few takers. The damage had been done, negating the gains of the self-imposed curfew.

The number of Covid cases has crossed 400 in India, even as most parts of the country are under lockdown. Punjab has taken the lead by imposing curfew to ensure that people don’t make light of the restrictions. However, a lockdown alone is not enough to contain the pandemic, going by the experience of Italy and other European countries in recent weeks. An emergency expert of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Mike Ryan, has warned that if nations don’t put in place strong public health measures now, the disease might make a resurgence when the movement curbs are lifted. It’s here that India, the world’s most populous country after China, needs to be extremely watchful. With its health infrastructure already under severe strain, India should utilise the lockdown period to streamline its operations and fine-tune its strategy to fight the virus. The citizens, on their part, need to exercise utmost restraint. Hopefully, the Centre’s warning that legal action will be taken against those ignoring restrictions would act as a deterrent and make reckless residents mend their ways.

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