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Millennium Post

Number games

Number games
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We have been living amid the frightening numbers over the past few months of what we call the second wave. The same numbers have now become the breath of fresh air as the daily Covid cases along with other crucial indicators point towards an improving situation. This, of course, should give us some room to relieve but certainly, not to cross the thin line to enter into the domain of carelessness. The story of resilience — both on the part of the government and individual beings — of partially coming out of what could be called the darkest days from a health and safety point of view, needs to be built upon further in perpetuity. The daily positive cases have bottomed below the records of the past one and a half month. The positivity rate has also come down below 10 per cent — lower than the weekly average. Also, the recovery rate has gone above 90 per cent. Things, however, are far from cosy as we keep losing well above 3,500 precious lives daily. The fatality numbers, though showing improvement on paper, are still very high as compared to global standards. In what could be called nature's mockery, human lives have turned into numbers — a helpless and undesirable count that we are forced to make. With no other option in place, these numbers have to be coupled with more numbers — of vaccination, testing etc. The testing numbers have seen a slight decline the previous day which is certainly not a healthy sign. If we repeat any negligence at this juncture, we are again blindsided by the deadly virus. The vaccination numbers are also improving, and governments and vaccine manufacturers are claiming to produce and administer more jab in the coming months. This second set of numbers including that of testing and vaccination have improved the first set of numbers including that of daily cases, positive cases and fatalities. So, without turning back or taking a rest we need to advance steadily and strategically to ensure the battle is won in a complete sense. The improving situation is only a headspace to brace up for the worst that might be awaiting us in the near future. Apart from safeguarding the immediate future, this is a golden opportunity to establish an infrastructure and build a capacity that will help us in the long run. The pandemic has snatched huge proportions from us. A learning experience and a readymade capacity build-up is the least we could demand from it. Talking more about numbers, there is also a need to dig deeper to ascertain how representative and encompassing the improving numbers are. This could be assessed on two parameters — the extent of credibility and hence, reliability of the data around death and positive cases; and the distribution of these numbers across the country. Coming to the first aspect, apprehensions around the under-reporting of cases and death have already made rounds in public circles with certain reports claiming actual numbers to be manifold higher. The government must take these warning signs more seriously and trace the lacunae in the system. Now to the second aspect, the most crucial assessment of the district-wise distribution of cases and deaths is needed at this moment. The "digital nature" of the registration process for the vaccination has left a major portion of the Indian population bereft of it. Owing to the better infrastructure and more digital literacy, the metros have comparatively an edge in both vaccination and testing status over the rural areas. There is a certain gap over here that must be bridged if we wish to keep the peril away. The communicable nature of the COVID-19 disease will likely undo the developments we have made so far if vaccination and testing are not covered proportionately across the length and breadth of the country. Further rural areas have many unreported cases and death; assembling the real data around all Covid indicators is a necessity and not an option. It is worth appreciating that we are slowly taking ourselves out of the worst phase of the pandemic but it is not the time to halt and pat our own backs. It must always be kept in consciousness that the situation is still not good enough and a lot more needs to be done. Also, there is a difference between being good and looking good on paper!

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