India must plan its strategy for a calibrated exit.
The government faces the challenge of normalising some level of daily life and oiling the wheels of the economy, without causing a surge in cases that could follow wrong steps.
PM Modi has sought the views of the States on the way forward beyond the 21-day lockdown, and mandated his Ministers to come up with a set of priority actions under a business continuity plan.
Migrant labour and harvest season and food security. Medical Emergency Management Plan Group
China, South Korea and Singapore opted for enhanced testing,isolation of the infected,tracing of patient contacts and strict quarantine.
With high emphasis on social distancing, universalmask use and handwashing, it should be possible to open up some activity and release the pressures building up under the lockdown.
Mass gatherings, long-distance travel and leisure activity would have to wait.
Urban mobility for workers in the absence of public transport could be made possible by encouraging bicycle use where feasible, avoiding congestion.
SANCTIONS AND PANDEMIC
America’s refusal to ease sanctions on Iran
Iran: 3,739 deaths and 62,589 infections
Failure of Iran: initially reluctant to enforce drastic restrictions on businesses, religious establishments and people.
And during the crisis, the cash-strapped, isolated regime struggled to meet people’s needs.
The fall in oil prices and the pandemic have multiplied Iran’s woes.
The U.S., which has the most number of COVID-19 infections, should be in a better position to understand Iran’s woes than any other country.
Iranians need help and the U.S. should reconsiderits policy of punishing them
A SCRIPT OF ACTION, RESPONSIBILITY AND COMPASSION
Albert Einstein: in the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.
Bhilwara: Once the epicentre of COVID-19 infections, Bhilwara has now become a case study in containing the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The Triple-Tmethod, i.e. ‘Tracing, Testing and Treatment’ was made mandatory.
WAR CRY: “Rajasthan Satark hai” and “Koi Bhuka nahi Soega”
Unity of Command and Unity in Communication system.
An emergency war-room, with deployment of senior Indian Administrative Service officers and officials from multiple departments, has been activated at the State-level for round-the-clock monitoring.
Every district has a similar system.
Social security measures: A relief package of ₹2,500 crore for the weaker sections and sustenance grants of ₹2,500, for 31 lakh construction workers, factory workers and street vendors, and destitutes have been disbursed.
Pregnant and lactatingwomen are being tracked to ensure institutional delivery, immunisation and essential food and nutrition.
State government has also given relief given to the hotel and tourism industry by giving them reimbursement of State Goods and Service Tax for three months up to June 2020 and relaxation in excise fees.
Importance of compassion and humanity.
TAKING A LONG VIEW OF THE PANDEMIC FIGHT
About12,000 years ago, our ancestors decided to settle down in various places, mostly large river deltas, and began agriculture and the domestication of cattle.
It gave mankind the time and the opportunity to develop art, music, language and science.
This changed once they stayed in one place and shared their settlementswith animals.
This also allowed microorganisms to mutate and jump from animals to humans.
It is estimated that 60-70% of human infections may have been acquired this way, and the new coronavirus is one of them.
Our public health system has done a tremendous job of eradicating two other viruses from the world: smallpox and polio.
Tuberculosis is still the world’s single most lethal infectious disease, killing 1.5 million worldwide in 2018, 220,000 of whom were in India.
Further, 27%of tuberculosis cases in India is drug resistant..
Hopefully the culture of personal hygiene which includes taking showers, practising hand washing, and avoiding spitting in public places will stay even after the threat of SARS-CoV-2 has receded.
Today, a person above 65 years of age in India is still far more likely to die of a heart attack, stroke or even tuberculosis than of COVID-19.
Somehow we seem to believe that these diseases only affect “others” and continue to smoke, eat and drink in excess.
A dose of terror here may do some good.
But it would be prudent to remember that about 20,000 people die every day in our country, about 5,000 due to heart disease and another 2,000 due to strokes.
WHY HEALTHCARE WORKERS ABOVE 60 SHOULD BE ‘BENCHED’
A recent study in The Lancet Infectious Diseases shows a steep age gradient in deaths from COVID-19.
The case fatality rates are nearly four times higher for those over 60 years of age.
They are 12 times higher for those above 70 years.
Healthcare workers — be it doctors, nurses, paramedical staff, or community health workers — are clearly at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19.
In Italy, 20% of healthcare workers have been infectedwith COVID-19, and hospitals have been the focus for infection.
There is a global crisis of medical-grade personal protective equipment (PPE) and so health workers are at an even higher risk.
Elderly healthcare workers are more likely to face serious consequences.
Having a colleague succumb very early in the pandemic will hamper the morale of not only the health workforce but also the community.
The focus should rather be on upskilling students, trainees, and younger health workers up the professional ladder.
Elderly healthcare workers should mandatorily be given preference over younger non-health workers.
Governments across the world need to declare and enforce these policies and guidelines.
This is a moral imperative for the society to protect those who have already done their part all their lives.
Whatever way COVID-19 pans out, humans will survive. What we do now would determine if humanity will.
A DIFFERENT ECONOMIC APPROACH
What is going to be the cost of this decision?
Is it worth sacrificing the economy to save lives?
The policy objective must be to find ways of ensuring that the lockdown ends early without compromising on public health.
The economic cost of combating COVID-19 can be reduced by combining aggressive testing and isolation, a strategy proposed by economist Paul Romer for the U.S.
For it to work, people must be tested in large numbers. Those who test positive must be isolated.
The success of this will depend on eliminating the fears associated with isolation. Such fears can be reduced only if isolation facilities are good.
District administrations are taking up unsold flats and apartments in the suburbs of Delhi for hosting migrant labourers.
The second precondition is the substantial ramping up of manufacturing capacities for medical grade masks, gloves, gowns, ventilators, testing labs, etc.
During a public health crisis, all resources must be used to ramp up healthcare capacities.
Govt. mulls lockdown extension amid requests from the States
India lifts ban on export of hydroxychloroquine
Schools, colleges may remain closed till May 15
Kerala-Karnataka border row sorted out, Centre informs SC
Delhi’s ‘5T’ war against virus
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday announced a “5T plan” created by his government to contain COVID-19 spread in Delhi. These five Ts are testing, tracing, treatment, teamwork and tracking-monitoring.
Farmers want crop to be lifted from fields in Punjab, Haryana
With wheat harvesting round the corner in the key grain producing States of Punjab and Haryana, farmers have urged the State governments to procure the grain from their fields amid the rising spread of COVID-19.
The Punjab government is proposing to increase the number of ‘mandis’ but it would not solve the problem. In view of the labour shortage, it will be a herculean task to swiftly lift the grain from these ‘mandis’ when the arrival picks up.
Telangana reports 40 fresh cases
Dharavireports two more cases
As Dharavireported two more positive cases on Tuesday, Shiv SenaMP from the area Rahul Shewale has demanded that Asia’s biggest slum be locked down. He has demanded that every resident of the slum, with a population of eight lakh, be tested and the Reserve Police Force be stationed here as people are not maintaining social distancing.
‘Health more important than wealth’
At the end of the two weeks of lockdown, Vice-President M. VenkaiahNaidu on Tuesday said considerations of the health of the people should take precedence over stabilisation of economy.
Name the current Director-General of World Health Organisation.