Life amidst a crisis
The sight of traffic on roads does not portray the unprecedented times that we are living in. While the virus still moves among us, people have emerged from their homes to go about their businesses. Resuming livelihoods is important even in such a grim hour. Nearly two months of lockdown has already derailed economies of the world off their trajectory. India is no exception. The World Bank has said that Covid-19 will push as many as 60 million into poverty globally. Recession, unemployment, inflation, et al, are in line due to the massive disruption that the pandemic has caused. We ought to balance our economy with public health which is why even though the fourth phase of lockdown is in effect, the economy is slowly resuming. Relaxations in restrictions can lead to an unpredictable rise in infected cases but the assumption that preparations are in place to combat it is the guiding force here. States have been empowered to decide their own restrictions within the broad contours decided by the Centre. Subsequently, fresh workplace guidelines were also issued by the Union Health Ministry. Since a large number of workplaces will become operational following the relaxations, people are required to be careful — more than ever. Maintaining one-metre distance and sanitising hands are to be adopted as diligently as social greetings. Masks covering nose and mouth are to become a mandatory accessory. The Ministry notified that in case any employee is diagnosed or suspected to be Covid-positive, they should notify authorities and isolate themselves. It has not mandated shutting down of offices should one or two cases be reported but if cases rise then the office building ought to be shut down and disinfected. Respiratory etiquettes are to be expected from everyone while the work-from-home culture has been endorsed. Since symptoms of Covid-19 are similar to common flu, any employee experiencing flu-like symptoms ought to stay home and seek local medical attention to minimise any threat of transmission at the workplace. These norms mostly appear as individual practices that are a must in order to safeguard public health. Since asymptomatic patients are a cause for concern, precautionary measures would have to be the centre of official conduct from hereon. There are many small steps that individuals need to take to stay safe which are not something that an official government advisory would read. And, it is these small things that would require the greatest of effort, mostly because we are not habitual of watching out for these. For instance, workspaces have common restrooms, elevators, etc., wherein apart from routine disinfection, chances of transmission exist. Therefore, it boils down to every individual to be aware of the surrounding and avoid any mishap. All this is easier said than done given how the fidgety habits of human beings are. But as the situation remains severe with the virus moving among us, these precautions must become part of our everyday routine.
While individuals look out for themselves, workplaces are expected to offer sanitisers at multiple places such as elevator doors, gateways, etc. Routine disinfection of public spaces and the promotion of social distancing measures would be prudent. Eight weeks of lockdown have been a lesson per se. Unlike common flu, there is no cure for this virus and thus prevention is the mantra. While vaccine development will take its course, the public ought to adhere to social distancing norms as they emerge from their homes. With densely populated India, social distancing appears to be a challenge, especially in public transport. While buses are functioning at half capacity, metros remain shut. But there will come a time when they resume services and even then, everything will boil down to effective use of masks and handwash/sanitisers by everyone. Howsoever inconvenient, this is the new normal that we ought to adhere to for some time now and the earlier we are accustomed to it, the better it will be for us, and for the nation.