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Opinion | Pandemic: If lockdowns are enforced, situation will definitely improve in next 2-3 weeks

On Monday, the Centre announced that all Indians above the age of 18 years will now be eligible to get Covid vaccines from May 1.

Rajat Sharma Rajat Sharma @RajatSharmaLive
New Delhi Updated on: April 20, 2021 14:45 IST
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Opinion | Pandemic: If lockdowns are enforced, situation will definitely improve in next 2-3 weeks

India registered 1,761 deaths during the past 24 hours due to the Covid pandemic as the second wave is taking the form of a tsunami spreading in different states, unabated. The number of active cases have doubled in the last ten days and has crossed 20 lakhs. Nearly 2.6 lakh new Covid cases were reported on Monday, and the situation is grim across all metros and towns. 

The total number of death since the onset of the pandemic has now touched 1,80,530. Till now, 12.7 crore people have been vaccinated across India. On Monday, the Centre announced that all Indians above the age of 18 years will now be eligible to get Covid vaccines from May 1. A week-long complete lockdown has been clamped in the national capital Delhi, which recorded more than 23,700 Covid cases on Monday. 240 Covid patients died in Delhi in the last 24 hours.

With government and private hospitals unable to bear the load of a huge number of Covid patients, the Centre has asked Army and DRDO to open up hospitals to treat Covid patients. DRDO will set up temporary Covid hospitals in Lucknow and Ahmedabad, it has already opened a big Covid hospital in Delhi.  Within two hours of the opening of the Covid hospital in Delhi, all the 250 beds were filled up. The capacity is now being enhanced to 500. 

The Defence Ministry has asked all cantonment board hospitals to admit civil Covid patients. Two more Covid hospitals will be set up in Patna and Nashik by the DRDO. 

In a grim repeat of last year, a huge exodus of migrant workers has begun from Delhi after it was announced that a week-long lockdown will be enforced. More than 5,000 migrants rushed to Anand Vihar ISBT to catch buses for their home towns. 

There is no reason to panic. According to experts, the main purpose behind lockdown is to break the virus chain that had been spreading for the last two months. Once the virus chain breaks, the Covid curve will definitely fall flat and then decline. This has already happened in Mumbai, as we showed last night in our show ‘Aaj Ki Baat’ on India TV. 

The medical fraternity has welcomed Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s decision to impose a weeklong lockdown in the capital. Doctors said this was necessary to ease the huge load that had been put on the capital’s hospitals, both public and private. Such a drastic step was necessary and the results will be visible soon, they said. The issue is not only of a shortage of beds, ventilators and oxygen cylinders, there is severe shortage of healthcare workers, many of whom have been tested positive, and are in self-isolation. Doctors say that those people who have mild Covid systems and have been found positive, can stay at home and take medicines to recover. 

The moot point is vaccination. The more people get the vaccine, the lesser load hospitals will have to bear. India has vaccinated a record number of people. It has been our Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s earnest endeavour, right from the beginning, to ensure that vaccines reach the common people at the earliest. Yet, there are still many who are sceptical about the vaccines. In the first stage, healthcare workers were given first priority for vaccination, but you will be surprised to know that only 37 per cent out of a 3 crore plus health workforce have opted for vaccines. The age limit was lowered to 45 years, and yet many people in the age group of 45-plus did not come forward and take vaccines. 

Now that vaccination for all 18-plus Indians have been allowed from May 1, we expect to see a huge rush for vaccines. In the US and UK, a large number of people took vaccines, and today, because of a drop in Covid cases, the markets have now reopened. We should learn from their experience. Our population is nearly 100 crores more compared to that of the US, and it will take a long time to vaccinate all. Remember, vaccination is the only method available to control the pandemic.

The biggest mistake that we did was to presume when the first wave died down, that a second wave will never hit India. By February, most of the huge Covid temporary hospitals that were built last year were dismantled due to a lack of patients. Most of the people took it easy, started moving in crowds, without masks, did not practise hand hygiene, and the results are there for all to see. 

We could have used this vital time to increase the number of hospital beds, enhance oxygen supply, ventilators and medicines, but we took a complacent view. Most of the use were focused on vaccines – To take, or not to take. By this time, the wedding season began, parties were on in full swing, Kumbh Mela was allowed, political rallies took place, and the pandemic, that was waiting in the wings, struck. The situation has now become chaotic in the last two weeks. Now that curfews and lockdowns have been imposed, I am confident that better results will be visible in the next two to three weeks.

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