India may be just about flattening its pandemic curve but all depends on how we handle the festival gush
There is some good news for India at last where the pandemic is concerned. The number of new Coronavirus infections and casualties has declined in the last three weeks and the spread curve of the pandemic has flattened in most States, except for Kerala, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal. The Government may have finally admitted to community transmission but we had quite internalised the possibility way back given the stiff peaks and high infectivity. Yet we cannot afford to be complacent about the disease right now as in Europe, too, the cases spiked exponentially after the spread slowed down for a bit, giving people a false sense of security, and the dry winter weather aggravated susceptibility to the virus. The UK is in a serious lockdown mode again. Besides, with economic activity opening up as part of the country’s unlocking efforts and cinema halls, multiplexes, entertainment parks, swimming pools for sportspersons functioning, the festive bonhomie this weekend could just about trigger a viral storm that could reverse the situation in no time. One has to look at Kerala, which was seen as a model of virus containment at one time, sliding disastrously post-Onam. In a State, where 90 per cent of the reported cases were from outside, the trend reversed to 90 per cent of the infections being locally transmitted July onwards.
We may slow down, tire out and chase the virus but have a long way to go because 70 per cent of the people are still susceptible to infection. So in short, there is no room for complacency or laxity. In this respect, the Calcutta High Court ruling that puja pandals in the city, which have been mounted on the usual lavish scale, cannot allow any visitors inside except the organisers, is much needed to avoid a mass contagion. Only then can we flatten out by February. Because, the socio-economic impact of the second wave of the virus on an already overwhelmed, weakened and tottering healthcare infrastructure and economy will be too great. We have to stop pointing fingers at the Government and everyone else on the planet for our plight. We need to grow up as a nation and take responsibility for our own actions. True, the Government and other stakeholders in it are responsible to a very large extent for management, but it is time we hold ourselves accountable, too. If this means becoming online celebrants for one season, so be it.