With the biggest ever single-day spike of 1,84,372 fresh cases, India on Tuesday became the second nation in the world after the USA to have recorded the highest single-day spike. The USA had recorded 3.09 lakh cases on a single day on January 8 this year. India has now become the second worst-hit country in the world in terms of recorded Covid cases and third worst-hit nation in terms of active Covid cases. A total of more than 1,000 Covid-related deaths took place on Tuesday alone across India. The daily casualty figure crossed 1,000 for the first time since October 2 when the first wave was at its peak.
The national capital Delhi recorded nearly 13,500 (13,468) Covid cases on Tuesday, the worst ever for any city in India. The positivity rate in Delhi has jumped to 13.1 per cent, and beds are running out in hospitals. Ninety per cent of Covid beds with ventilators in Delhi are occupied and 82 per cent of Covid beds without ventilators are now occupied. LNJP, Rajiv Gandhi, Vimhans, Holy Family, Max, Patparganj and Shalimar Bagh have no Covid ventilator beds now available.
In Maharashtra, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announced virtual curfew across the state from Wednesday 8 pm till May 1. Except those involved in essential services and those categories exempted, will be allowed to move in public places. Only shops providing essential services will remain open. “The war on Covid-19 has begun, but this time the situation is worse than last year. And so we are imposing lockdown-like restrictions in Maharashtra. I urged the people to treat it like a Janata Curfew and follow it strictly”, Thackeray said.
It's true nobody wants a complete lockdown to be enforced, it hits business and economy hard, while middle class and poorer sections of people lose their jobs and daily wages. One latest study has said that if a complete lockdown is enforced in Maharashtra alone, it will cause losses to the tune of Rs 40,000 crore. Agriculture, service, hotel, tour and travel industry will take a hard hit. Manufacturing and construction sectors may record a decline by more than 11 per cent. Maharashtra accounts for 14 per cent of India’s GDP. Lakhs of workers may lose their jobs if these industries come to a grinding halt.
Already, thousands of migrant workers, fearing a complete lockdown, have packed up their bags and are moving towards their home states by trains and buses. In my prime time show ‘Aaj Ki Baat’ on Tuesday evening, we showed how thousands of migrants congregated near Lokmanya Tilak Terminus and other stations in Mumbai, apart from stations in Gurugram, Haryana. The Indian Railways have provided 22 coaches refurbished as Covid isolation centres to the Maharashtra government, as there is acute shortage of beds in hospitals.
In the National Capital Region, night curfew has been imposed in Delhi and neighbouring states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. This has led to fear among migrant workers, who feel that their factories may be shut down, though this is not the case presently. On Day One of Chaitra Navratra, there were huge crowds outside the famous Vindhyavasini temple in Mirzapur (UP), at the famous Vaishno Devi temple near Katra, and other religious shrines. Thousands took a holy dip during the ongoing Kumbh Mela at Haridwar. There is no gainsaying the fact that such mass congregations can only act as force multiplier for the pandemic virus, that is spreading fast.
The scenes in hospitals and crematoriums are heart rending. Huge chimneys at the Surat electric crematorium have started melting due to round-the-clock use for cremating Covid-19 victims. JCB machines are being used to bury the dead in the cemeteries of Surat. At the Sion crematorium in Mumbai, bodies are being kept waiting for cremation, as non-stop funeral rites are in progress. At the Harmu crematorium in Ranchi, 25 tractors carrying wood had to be brought as the electric crematorium went out of order. 52 bodies were cremated during the last two days at this crematorium. At the B R Ambedkar hospital mortuary in Raipur, the capital of Chhattisgarh, 40 bodies of Covid victims were lying in the open, as the mortuary was packed with dead bodies.
The situation is becoming scarier in other states too. The number of fresh Covid cases in Uttar Pradesh jumped to 18,021, with several top bureaucrats in the Chief Minister’s Office being tested positive. Maharashtra, at the top of the tally, recorded 60,212 fresh Covid cases on Tuesday.
Here I want to give one suggestion. There is no need to worry much over the spike in fresh cases. If all of us decide to impose self-regulation on ourselves, and if we decide that we shall not move outside our homes for at least two weeks, unless it is very essential, we can manage to control the spread of this pandemic.
Remember, by staying inside our homes, we can break the chain of this fast spreading virus. If this chain is broken for at least two to three weeks, the number of fresh Covid cases will start declining. If at all you have to move outside for some essential work, do wear a mask. Three months ago, there were hardly 80 to 90 fresh Covid cases daily in Delhi, and now it is inching towards the 14,000 mark. If all of us decide to impose self-regulation and stay in our homes, the number of cases will surely drop to 100.
If we confine ourselves to our homes, we shall not see these scary visuals of bodies being cremated by pouring fuel, or of bodies lying in the open outside mortuaries, or of patients struggling to breathe, but lying on the floor of hospitals. If we isolate ourselves dedicatedly in our homes for at least two weeks, there will be no big load on government or private hospitals. They can do their work with ease, and help patients to recover. ICU beds must be given to only those patients, who require them urgently.
If you want to avoid lockdowns in Delhi, UP or Gujarat, you must self-regulate yourselves and stay inside your homes. This disciplined self-regulation will help others too. Businesses and industry will not close and migrant labourers will not have to move out of cities. If we succeed in breaking the chain of Coronavirus, our children may then be able to return to schools and give examinations. If the situation eases, we can celebrate our festivals with vigour.
Remember, the pandemic failed to impact those nations, while strictly enforced this type of self-regulation, avoided mass gatherings, vaccinated most of their people and the death toll dipped. Ours is a vast nation, and it will take a long time to vaccinate all Indians. Self-control is the need of the hour. If we want to save ourselves and our family, self-regulation by staying inside our homes for the next few weeks is bound to give positive results soon.
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India’s Number One and the most followed Super Prime Time News Show ‘Aaj Ki Baat – Rajat Sharma Ke Saath was launched just before the 2014 General Elections. Since its inception, the show is redefining India’s super-prime time and is numerically far ahead of its contemporaries.