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Society at virtual halt

Society at virtual halt

In the wake of rising figures, the government on Thursday notified the closure of its airports to all international commercial flights from March 22 for a week. While it may be a concern for those Indians still finding their way back into the country, the measure will serve well to restrict the number of potential carriers that may reach India. Already, screening measures have sent a number of cases to quarantine but there is no guarantee of cases not slipping by the screening process. With less still known about the Covid-19, cases have also been such that patients have not shown any symptoms and yet tested positive; an asymptomatic form of infection. If that is found to be true for any of the cases in India, it would be a humongous issue as screening at Indian airports has majorly been based on fever-check and self-declaration of symptoms in passengers based on which quarantine has been initiated. It should be noted that more than 30 of the 170 active cases are foreigners, many of whom were not stopped at airports based on no symptoms at the outset. With the incubation period of 2-14 days, they developed the virus later, only to have transmitted it to those around. Fortunately, the Indian administration has been on its toe, tracking down their shoe prints to put several locations on surveillance, modestly testing those identified to have been in contact with those who have tested positive for the virus. Social distancing has been advised by the government due to the very fact that there can be transmission from anyone who has had travel history and who did not exhibit any symptoms at the beginning. In any case, the government has asked those with no symptoms to practice self-quarantine. On Thursday, the authorities at Delhi and UP begun stamping forearms using indelible ink of passengers who have been advised home-quarantine in the wake of the pandemic. The measure was taken due to the callous behaviour of those suggested self-quarantine who were being found roaming the streets. Even the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has reported a similar exercise. With an astounding population density, the practice of double screening and home quarantine is a must for outsiders coming to UP, Delhi and Maharashtra. In fact, acknowledging the perils of community transmission, the Central government on Thursday notified 50 per cent of its employees to work from home — a practice that has even involved several private companies since the rise in cases in March. The remaining employees have been asked to attend office albeit at different time slots. In any case, people with even mild symptoms — including travel history to red-marked countries — are expected to practice obligatory social distancing and stay home. As per a PIB circular, the states are being asked to enforce work-from-home for private-sector employees. Multiple health advisories from the Union Health Ministry as well as suggestions from doctors across the newspapers, social media as well as radio and television have underlined the importance of washing hands and staying indoors to avoid any possibility of getting infected. At this point, it has been widely understood that the Covid-19 is more dangerous for the elderly and toddlers which is why the government has advised the senior citizens and children, especially under the age of ten, to remain home. The NCT of Delhi has seen a shutdown of schools, colleges, malls, cinema halls, gyms, restaurants as well as parks to avoid large gatherings. Nearly half of the shops have been closed down while grocery stores have witnessed a tremendous rise in average day footfall. It is important to stock up but the practice should not lead to hoarding and consequential deprivation of necessary items to society. Civil aviation and railways will attempt to limit internal travel by suspending concessions available to citizens across categories. Testing centres are likely to see a rise.

While drastic preventive measures are largely restricted to metropolises, town and district administrations must stay on their toes for any necessity to emulate the larger cities when it comes to quarantine. Narrowing down on cases and quarantining them is necessary as any instance of a community transmission would be catastrophic. In all likelihood, there has to be varying impact of economic disruptions caused by contagion-induced curbs but restricting the spread and curing those infected takes precedence. Reports from Europe have been very demotivating as Italy suffers the worst. While on the other hand, China, for the first time in 2020, reported no new cases of the infection yesterday. With four deaths, the Indian conscience must rise to the occasion and ensure every step that can be taken in the interest of individual safety. While individuals can make a difference on a personal level, compliance by government directives will ensure eradication of the outbreak on the macro front.

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