Editorial | Corona Pandemic: Is time running out ?

The day government announced to close down schools as a measure to ward off this deadly virus, the problem started sounding real. Although the initial reactions were mixed, and some people thought that the administration should have waited some more time to take such a decision, but soon the wisdom of this decision dawned on all. The way this deadly virus wreaked havoc in countries like Iran and Italy, made it clear that the only defense against this disease is to stay home, and minimize human interaction as much as possible. Just a day or two later, government closed down more public spaces like parks and restaurants, besides issuing advisories against public gatherings. In the same line of action it was further decided that in some areas teaching staff will not be asked to come to schools. All this, cumulatively means that government wants people to stay home, and stay safe. If the measures taken by the more affected countries is any indication it is just the beginning. In China, where the virus first struck, the only way it has started receding, is the closing down of all public spaces. The pictures that came from cities like Wuhan gives us a sense of how an entire population stayed off roads, markets, and offices. Same is the case with other countries. Even, as the reports suggest, the US is taking some harsh steps to fight this disease. In this backdrop the question surfaces up that should the administration in JK take more decisions to fight this disease. We have been lucky, till now, that there is no spike in the case of corona affected patients, as the statistics suggest.  That means we have some breathing time. The pattern of the spread of this disease suggests that after an initial lazy unfurling, it suddenly goes up and hits a huge number of people. This means that before it, God forbid, spikes, government should close down the public spaces that are not performing any emergency services. After all if there is no class work, why ask the staff to come and be present. Similarly the staff in many offices performing no emergency duties can be asked to work from home, and connect to the office online. Here we need to remind the authorities that normal internet services should be restored before yesterday. Not doing so means playing with the lives of the people.

One more step that is badly needed is to disallow people from visiting patients in the hospitals. Only those who attend the patients should be allowed to stay in the hospitals. And in case of hospitalized patients, if any of them can be managed at home, should be discharged. We still have time, before it hits in a manner it has in other countries. These are not usual times. In abnormal situations, extraordinary decisions are taken. So the government shouldn’t dally in taking a decision as to which offices, and public spaces, are to be kept open for emergency purposes. All other spaces need to be sealed for the time being. This can allow the system to better fight the pandemic. It is not a routine administrative affair, it is a life threatening situation. Right now it seems we have not woken up fully; there is an element of denial and that is dangerous. It is true we should not panic, but at the same time we should do what needs to be done.