The pandemic caused by the outbreak of the novel virus, COVID-19 brought the world to a halt, every step of what the Indian government is doing to prevent the spread of the virus is closely watched and criticized. The development of the show started in mid-November in China, and in December, the Chinese government was trying to figure out what was causing a peculiar form of pneumonia.
During the very initial phase of Coronavirus outbreak in the Chinese province, Wuhan from where the virus originated, the Chinese kept travelling to different cities in the world while carrying COVID19 virus with them. By February, the virus had spread almost in every country in the world, and it affected Europe and the United States of America pretty severely.
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Indian subcontinent faced the challenge only in March when the cases of the virus spread rapidly in the first few weeks and called for an urgent lockdown of all the cities and places by 21st March.
States and the Central Govt. taken various steps to control the spread ranging from complete shut down of all the activities, businesses, transport facilities including buses, trains and all the flights, whether domestic or international. All the people with travel histories to the affected countries were quarantined and isolated. The pace with which the country saw infection rising was remarkable and causing hysteria amongst people.
Such a situation lead to some strict actions taken by the administration, one of which was countrywide curfew where only essential services were available and that too for certain hours a day. This country vide shutdown caused people to panic, but they started losing their faith when the shutdown could not stop the spread of the virus, but the number of cases per day had increased instead.
Many factors contributed to the Indian government’s failure in handling coronavirus cases, and the rapid spread of the virus even amidst nation vide lockdown.
While the Chinese government was handling the cases of Coronavirus which was easily transmitted, the Indian administration was fighting demonstration and violence against the new draconian law passed by the Modi government recently. Political pressure was so much that the administration decided to completely disregard the virus spread and focus entirely on crushing the agitations happening in the national capital. India saw its first case on 30th January, and due to no or less local transmission, the administration did not take it seriously and only quarantined the people with travelling history to affected countries.
W.H.O. announced that there are no vaccine or medicine to treat the infection caused by the COVID-19. The only solution left was to imposed the nationwide and statewide lockdown, The lockdown came preferably with a little warning sneaking little action without any planning which left lakhs people on the road helpless to move towards their villages from cities like Delhi and Mumbai. Panicked and shock struck labourers and workers who were left with no other option but to flee the big cities as they had no work and food to survive. Big groups of people gathered at bus stands to catch the last buses to their homes, and some even started walking, hoping that they will reach someday.
It can easily be inferred that the laid back attitude of the government leads to suffering for the people who are the most vulnerable in society. But the problem does not end here, as these large groups of labourers and workers set out to reach their homes, they were unmasked and completely unprepared to protect against the virus. In such a situation, they were left vulnerable to contract the virus and more so to spread it. The fear of the rapid spread of the virus in even unaffected loomed, and later the State governments came forward to support their people.
After failing to prevent the virus even amidst lockdown, the country had been losing time. It cannot be denied that with screening and quarantining of travellers and spreading public awareness about the virus, the Indian administration did an excellent job. However, the danger of local transmission still loomed, and we faced a mass explosion of cases in which we were unequipped to handle. With very few P.P.E. and the limited number of masks and hand gloves for the health personnel, the life of many doctors, nurses were put in danger, and there was a significant danger of the virus being spread through the hospitals.
And this nightmare has just now come to reality when in Mumbai in a hospital which has now been declared a corona hotspot, approximately 40 nurses were found positive for the virus, and there have been many deaths in other parts of the country too. This state of affairs clearly shows how this lack of preparation has to lead to local transmission of the virus even in the areas where it could have easily been prevented.
All the arguments regarding lack of resources and preparedness apart, one more flaw in the system is giving undue attention to the things which do not warrant such attention. The clear cut example of this could be seen in how the virus took religious colour and could have led to communal riots in the middle of a global pandemic.
There are many places in India where there have been successful attempts at preventing the outbreak such as the model adopted in a small city of Rajasthan named Bhilwara, where they took the practice of mass testing. The key concept is that in some cases, the patients are asymptomatic and could still spread the virus unaware of their condition. In such cases, even social distancing and other preventive measures could prove fruitless, and the rapid speed of virus spread would still grow. The effects of not taking mass testing are seen in the United States, where the number of people infected with the disease and the number of deaths is skyrocketing.
Countries that followed the practice of mass testing showed far better results, such as in South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong, the spread was contained easily. However, that is not the only factor that contributed to prevention as these countries were prepared with proper infrastructure to handle all the situations.
One of the most critical factors which lead to the mass spread of the virus in India taking us to the path where we are right now was the presumption that India will not reach the stage of community transmission. This presumption is simply a state of denial where you completely disregard the fact which is in existence. The Indian government took up the task to compensate the families of those who succumbed to the deadly virus than to order mass testing. Despite having the capacity to test 8000 samples per day as of 18th March, the Modi government decided to test only 80 samples a day. What does this tactic mean, is this a mere trick to conceal the number of people infected.
It is an utter disappointment that the government lost a significant amount of crucial time to prevent the spread and the steps that are being taken now damage control.
The 5 Reasons Why Corona Virus Cases in India have Increased Rapidly are:
1. Complete Lockdown Ignorance
Before India reported less than 100 coronavirus cases, the Government of India advised the states to deploy lockdown and also requested people to strictly maintain a safe distance from each other even at home. We all know that Corona Virus Disease can be transferred from one person to another by merely handshake or through sneeze still people are not maintaining social-distancing as much as there is need for the moment! One should remember that CoronaVirus can enter any living cell and can multiply and people with health issues and old age people with weak immunity are at a higher risk to get the infection. Many states in India have not followed the guidelines, and as a result, more positive cases may come in the future.
There should be more focus given to social distancing, and the people should follow the government request ad help each other. Ignorance by not wearing masks and not applying safety measures like washing hands several times, washing shoes and any grocery supplies from the shops can also lead to bring this unwanted guest into the house!
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2. The Recent Tablighi Jamaat controversy
The recent controversial congregation hosted at Nizammudin, Delhi on 13th March has also played a crucial role in spreading the Coronavirus as more than 3000 people of Islamic origin attended the congregation from all over the world like Malasia, Thailand, and many of them are found positive to Coronavirus! The whole internet is flooded with news that this can be a conspiracy towards making the countrymen weaker and eradicating the population. The Tablighi Jamaat leader and many are being quarantined and arrested on the grounds of spreading the disease to 17 states by infected foreign attendees.
3. The Maharastra slum cases/ Acute Poverty
The people living in slums lead an impoverished lifestyle as they cannot afford a decent living and India has many slum areas where there is a lack of proper sanitation. The poverty rate is very high, even though the government is taking measures to help the deprived section during the lockdown.
As India has experiencing II phase of complete lockdown yet, the people have to come in open to carry out their daily duties and are highly susceptible and prone risk to get the disease as they are not following social distancing. As per a recent report, the deceased had died due to Coronavirus in Dharavi and when taken to the hospital, died at Sion hospital. The authorities had to seal the whole area consisting of more than 300 flats and 90 shops. So people with malnutrition and those living in slums with no proper sanitation are also considered as a carrier and transmitter of Coronavirus.
This type of case can be found in many areas where there is a lack of knowledge and scarcity of living a normal in India as these places are highly contaminated and may contain traces of Coronavirus, and many could be a possible carrier.
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4. Health and Environment problems
Looking at the vast population in India, where India has seven most polluting cities of the world and a large number of patients who have diabetes and other health conditions, the number of positively infected patients can still go on a rise. However, the government is claiming that it is well prepared in advance for the cases, yet there are many challenges on its way. Climatic conditions can play a significant role in transmitting as rains may bring more sorrows this time, and severe floods can make the scene even worse!
It is being assumed that SARS COV-2 may become a viral disease in the future and may reoccur From time to time even if the government can lessen its spread, as there is no proper medication or vaccine available for its cure. Though India is exporting hydroxychloroquine to more than 55 countries and that is good news in itself yet there no total cure measures to bang on.
As per WHO reports, if the lockdown was not observed this effectively, many thousands of lives were at stake. But the condition is not yet in control as the medical facilities are not very good. Still, many states haven’t received masks and other medical equipment which are essential for medical officials, ground staff and police officials on duty. The delay in medical kits can also be one of the factors.
5. Water Supply and proper sanitization, sewage
There is still a long measure to be taken to eradicate this infectious disease as at present the water supply may be one of the prime factors to spread this viral infection as the water supply is impure and contaminated in most of the small towns and villages. Lack of proper sewage management can also lead to high risk as like other SARS viruses; this novel COVID-19 can also create a considerable discord from time to time, killing many people.
So, the government has to take steps in these areas as well, and more medical help and supplies should be made available to everyone to reduce the spread of Coronavirus. The fight has begun, and we have to be well equipped to survive and make this unseen killer die. Proper vaccinations and drugs are there for some hope the world is in need today. We wish India and the world will find a solution soon in the future.
This article has been jointly edited and contributed by Payal Arun and Sakshi Garg.