It has almost been more than 80 days since the announcement of lockdown in India (24 March 2020) to fight the deadly virus SARS COV-2. Since then ‘Stay at home’, ‘Don’t touch anything when going out’, ‘Don’t shake hands’, ‘Wash hands frequently’ etc. are some of the new normals being practiced by us as per the prevailing government advisories. Now that the nation is all geared up for unlocking and has entered the phase 1 of unlock which is “Jaan bhi Jahan bhi” and various economic activities have resumed, it becomes all the more important to navigate the unchartered virus with caution that has stalled our lives all around the globe. However, even after various efforts the situation is getting scary day by day as the world has so far lost thousands of lives. Whereas in case of India there has been huge spike in recent times and the confirmed cases have reached to 440K of which 248K have recovered and 14011 have died due to the deadly virus.
Amidst all this now the question arises where does this all lead us to when the world is dealing with the trauma and despair caused due to loss of near and dear ones to the virus, mental health issues surging up due to the current situation worldwide and what are the options to deal with the aftereffects of this pandemic that has struck us off gaurd. Further how to save lives and resume economy step by step worldwide which has been worst hit during this pandemic.
In case of India, going by the past events when the lockdown was initially imposed, India witnessed thousands of frightened labours on roads who went home fearing death and no future livelihood. Various images of deaths due to hunger and heat apart from COVID 19 were witnessed. The economic activity had come to a standstill as Manufacturing and other industries could not operate during the lockdown also news was prevailing that big companies will layoff a large number of employees worldwide caused despair amongst people. The IMF announced that COVID 19 will lead to the biggest recession of the time. Therefore, even though it was evident that the coronavirus case count would increase after lifting the lockdown, the costs to the economy were too heavy to sustain a comprehensive lockdown any longer.
In light of such events fifth phase of the national lockdown began on June 1 2020 and the government named it “Unlock 1.0” instead of “Lockdown 5.0”. Lockdown 5 is essentially being used to describe the extended lockdown in ‘Containment Zones’ till June 30. Unlock 1.0, on the other hand, is the gradual restoration of economy in the rest of the country as getting out of the lockdown is a step-by-step process – you can’t open up everything in one go.
But the question still remains, what lies ahead of us and what is the way forward. It’s clear that Unlock 1.0 will come up with its own challenges. The national capital is recording around a thousand new cases every day, and is now the second-worst affected state after Maharashtra with 62655 cases and 2233 deaths. Worst hit states of India being Maharashtra with total cases of 136K and 6,283 deaths, Delhi with 62,655 cases and 2,233 deaths, Tamil Nadu with 62,087 cases and 794 deaths, Gujarat with 27, 825 cases and 1,684 deaths and lastly Uttar Pradesh with 18,322 cases with 569 deaths.
Therefore in order to getting back to normal these worst hit states need to follow the success model of Dharavi (densely populated-2,27,136 persons/sqkm), Maharashtra where Mumbai civic body has effectively contained coronavirus in Asia’s largest slum of Dharavi. The central government credited proactive measures taken by the civic body for reducing the growth rate of the infection to 1.02 per cent in June from 12 per cent in April. The government also pointed out a steep decline of daily Covid-19 cases in Dharavi from an average of 43 a day in May to 19 a day in the third week of June. Further, Kerela has also managed to flatten the curve and came out the other side so quickly because of its strong public health system, clear risk communication and community participation. Despite its communist rule, Kerala’s healthcare system is, in fact, highly privatised, with a healthy division of labour between the public and private sectors. This very decentralised system has withstood the test of two serious floods and another viral outbreak in recent years, often making good use of the voluntary and active engagement of the public.
Further, it is also to see that how various states interpret the guidelines. States with fewer coronavirus cases are understandably nervous about opening the floodgates to unrestricted movement from states with high caseload which can be taken care of by taking necessary precautions and widespread testing at their level. Meanwhile, though businesses and factories can start functioning, economic activity will not pick up speed till the Indian consumer starts spending. For some industries, like travel and tourism, the weeks ahead are full of uncertainty as people continue to be wary of travelling unless absolutely necessary.
But the biggest concern for India remain that we have chosen a phased opening up at a time when our coronavirus cases are on the rise, and the peak is still ahead. So Unlock 1.0 is a step toward a new normal tangled along with concern about the virus spreading further. Necessary precautions and widespread testing is critical to track the scale and prevent the transmission of COVID 19.
Lastly, Coronavirus is bent on killing people therefore entire humanity must unite and resolve to eliminate it- PM Narendra Modi.