For those tracking global events in connection with COVID-19, the national lockdown announced on the night of 24th March could not have come as a surprise. The big shock was 4 days later when we watched (on TV and social media) thousands and thousands of workers, now jobless, migrate from different cities in the country and make a beeline to their villages – the biggest mass-migration since partition.
When COVID-19 first announced its ominous presence in the country it appeared that owing to their social mobility the rich and the affluent would become the primary targets; much unlike other disasters which usually hit the poor of the country the hardest – floods, famine, cyclone, communal violence. Globally too news trickled in daily about celebrities, politicians, actors etc testing positive. But in our country the lockdown made the poor suffer the brunt once again, even though the virus did not infect them directly.
We clucked sympathetically as we watched Facebook, Instagram and YouTube videos of movie stars posing prettily while sweeping and mopping their air-conditioned bungalows but when pictures of labourers struggling to reach their destinations became viral on social media, the initial reactions were of anger and dismay. Would their blatant flouting of social distancing norms make the entire country pay for their follies? We worried that these migrants would return and infect their villages putting to waste all of our efforts of these past few weeks socially isolating ourselves while watching Netflix and Amazon Prime series and sending WhatsApp forwards to family and friends.
A national lockdown of this magnitude with its impact on businesses, trade, travel and financial markets will no doubt result in years of economic recession and unemployment. Equally concerning is the impact that it might have on people suffering from serious health conditions; those with heart problems, infections like TB, cancer, uncontrolled diabetes and kidney failures which if neglected beyond a few weeks could result in more deaths in this period than deaths from COVID-19.
Even then, there is no doubt that the government’s bold decision has merits. While demonstrating to the world that it is capable of taking tough decisions it has also managed to create a massive public awareness regarding the seriousness of the situation the country is facing and the preventive measures that needed to be adopted – something that no media, public programs or any amount of coercion would have achieved. This according to experts potentially could slow down the spread of the virus – flatten the curve, albeit temporarily. Government and health authorities thus could gain time to prepare themselves for that major onslaught when it does hit us all in full force.
Sadly, incidents this past week have demonstrated that in a country like ours enforcing lockdown regulations strictly to a ‘T’ may be practically impossible, but the efforts need to be applauded. Whether the lockdown helps us win the current battle against the virus or not a long-term strategy needs to be quickly adopted or we may land up losing this ‘war’.
A strategy involving age-adjusted risk stratification of the population could be an option.
To be continued….
Next… (Part 2) Age-adjusted risk stratification for COVID-19 Click Here
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April 4, 2020 at 8:08 am
True Umanath. This is an impactful epidemic on all spheres the likes of nothing we have ever seen. It also brings to glaring focus, the lack of investment on primary and secondary healthcare at a national level. Besides housing and infrastructure development that would be the bulwark of any nation has been side stepped and all involved only the private players. Cutting corners in the wrong places had dealt a telling blow thats very vividly evident to all today.
April 4, 2020 at 8:10 am
The present lock down has also spawned the normalisation of a lot many natural situation like clean air, water and the return of the natural custodians ofnature like the birds and animals. Its quite and equaliser this Virus! In a country our size the present situation is mandatory to stem the spread. People should learn that its the only way.
April 4, 2020 at 9:56 am
Agree completely. The pandemic will and should bring in changes in the way we look at our health care system and that a country’s economy and development should not be graded solely on industry and trade but should be based on how the majority of the population lives. Such crises should make us plan and allocate funds differently by changing our priorities.
April 4, 2020 at 1:11 pm
The following question has been in my mind for a while
Should we practice Outpatient medicine during Corona
Is it better to wait till we get vaccine, If wait till how long
We cant get effective n95 mask to opd pts and Once he coughs ur chamber is aerosolised with virus
Ok if we ought to fight at an expense of part of fibrosed lung Is it worth enough ?
Since after China coverup we really dont knw reinfection or contagiousness and indian strain virulence and Indian immunity bcg efficacy over covid19
It’s better to relook everything after a month and decide..
Any comments in this decision making is welcome
April 5, 2020 at 4:13 pm
Each one of us should take our own decisions in this regard, whether to continue seeing OPD patients and doing elective surgeries or not. The general sentiment is to avoid non-urgent consultations and procedures at least for now. Not only as a safety precaution for health-care personnel, but also to avoid patient crowding, travel etc. At the same time patients should not feel abandoned – online, telephonic and social-media consultation and advise should be encouraged. All serious and emergency cases should be taken up of course with adequate precautions.
Dr G G Laxman Prabhu
April 6, 2020 at 6:21 am
Transparency, infrastructure and effective detection are essential for containment of the pandemic. We are lacking in all three. The official numbers have seldom provided the true picture of anything in this country. Corona will take its toll. Let us accept that we will face the wrath. The brighter side is, we are beginning to realize that the age old adage-“cleanliness is next to Godliness” is more relevant today than ever. Water will find its level. This too shall pass. It is worth quoting J Krishnamoorthy here- ” when everything fails, try patience”
May 1, 2020 at 6:01 pm
What is alarming to me is the increasing incidence of species to species crossover of pathogens in recent times. Whether Ebola, SARS Cov, SARS Cov-2. We need to understand causative factors for such transmission. Every government needs to develop an effective plan to deal with such crisis, which includes a clear framework, ready for implementation at very short notice.