CHANGE IN COVID STRATEGY

Clearly, India is changing its strategy vis-à-vis handling of the Covid-19 situation. Flights are resuming, and so are train services. Plan is to run some 200 trains of various categories and operate flights on a limited scale with new regulations for passengers. Bus services have resumed in the fourth phase of the lockdown, except in containment areas; and shops of all sorts have reopened. There have been several other relaxations in recent days, though the scenario remains pretty bad. The virus has the better of us and would not go away any time soon. Realization is also that the total lockdown as a strategy adopted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the outset, from March 25, has proven to be an over-kill.

Apparently, there was wrong advice coming to the PM; that a total closure of the nation would make the virus die on its own, as it would have “difficulty in getting new prey.” As the scene stands now, despite the long lockdown, the graph of the virus-hit is going up, standing now at 1.12lakh and deaths so far at around 3,000. Considering the gravity of the Covid-19 scene across the world, principally the US, Europe, and now Africa too, India faced less problems in terms of health emergencies. This saved the day for the government.

At the same time, questions arise as to whether it was necessary to keep the entire nation in lockdown mode when the virus spread was only limited to some cities. The scenario today is much worse in Mumbai, Delhi as also Gujarat, Tamil Nadu etc. Despite this, the process of relaxation is on. Realization has dawned on one and all that it is not advisable to keep the nation under lock and key for a longer term. It is now time to advise people to exercise maximum caution and move forward, and re-energise the engines of growth. The economy is down in the dumps; three hits coming in quick succession, namely the ill effects of Demonetization, the flaws in the implementation of the GST, and now Covid-19. States like West Bengal, Odisha etc., will now have to also bear the brunt of the Amphan cyclone.

It would be advisable for the governments to free up maximum areas from the Covid-19 restrictions. Keeping even districts that did not have a single case of Covid infection under lock and key was an unacceptable proposition. The need is to act in a selective manner, concentrate on problem areas and free up the rest.

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