Pandemic outbreak of the Novel Corona Virus or COVID-19 has ravaged the whole world. It is highly contagious and has affected people in hundreds of thousands across the globe. The current state of affairs is that the lethal bug has spread to over 180 countries. It is causing economic and human carnage and has led to a crisis never faced before by world. After inflicting its wrath in Asia, the killer virus has now travelled to the US, Canada and Western Europe which have become new epicenters of this contagion. Today, the world is facing a catastrophic situation and it is unclear where we may end up.
Corona Virus is a microscopic virus that spreads through air droplets and person to person contact mostly attacking lungs. It causes an illness that resembles ‘Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome’ or SARS. Reportedly, it was first identified in a patient-who had developed viral pneumonia like symptoms-a resident of Wuhan in the Hubei province of China, on December 01, 2019 by a group of doctors including Dr Li Wenliang who later succumbed to the killer virus.
In India, a significant number of citizens travelling abroad have brought in the deadly virus as asymptomatic and oblivious carriers. It has now started picking up and the number of cases is increasing every day. It is a life threatening situation and as a part of fight against this virus is to stay home, minimize human interaction as much as possible by adhering to social/physical distancing practices and closing down of all public places. Looking at what the world is going through, Government of India enforced 21-day lockdown on March 24, 2020 to not let contagion spread in the country and curtailed physical contacts with the rest of the world. The nation has come to a complete standstill, devoid of hustle and bustle of everyday life. This is a frightful scene that has unnerved many.
In the context of J&K region, the first Corona Virus patient who tested positive was reported from Jammu on March 09, 2020 with travel history of Iran followed by another on March 13, 2020-a close contact of the first patient- and yet another case on the same day with Saudi Arabia travel history. The government woke up to the crisis when on March 16, 2020 the authorities declared 2019-nCoV as an epidemic. In Kashmir valley, on March 18, 2020 the first case with Saudi Arabia travel history was reported from Khanyar, Srinagar. Since then, fresh cases of contagious infection have started surfacing daily. Hospitals across the state are witnessing rush with an exponential increase in the number of patients having symptoms of cough and fever. As of now, many areas with patients tested positive have been declared as Red Zones. Administrative and health officials are desperately looking for those who have entered the state after the pandemic blew up. The 21-day lockdown is expected to reduce the number of Corona Virus affected patients which would help to tackle the situation.
In a scenario like this, our primary focus should be to ensure that each one of us plays his part in a fight against this pandemic exercising extra caution. In addition, the following few suggestions are put forth to manage the crisis:
- Strictly adhere to the guidelines and advisories issued, from time to time, by the doctors and government. This would surely allow the system to better fight the pandemic;
- Those of us bestowed with fortunes, riches and who have an assured income should not hesitate in contributing generously to the J&K Government’s Relief Fund to strengthen disaster management capacities for protecting citizens;
- It is important to be on extra vigil and make people very sensitive towards this challenge. A minute to minute stock of the situation needs to be taken;
- Stop spreading fake news, rumors and creating panic. It should be ensured that things are confirmed from the relevant quarters;
- Our doctors, nurses, pharmacists, other healthcare staff and sanitary workers are doing a commendable job. They are the ones who are actually putting their own lives at risk while treating a corona positive or suspected patient and hence run a high risk of getting infected. They must be provided with adequate Personal Protection Equipments (PPE) to overcome the risks. Acknowledge and applaud their services, encourage and cooperate with them;
- It is observed that some people, especially the youngsters, are playing cricket on the roadsides/grounds and many more going out for morning walks. Probably, they consider lockdown as a normal curfew to which they are accustomed to. It is important to understand the difference between a curfew and a lockdown which means to stay inside. Authorities should enforce lockdown in letter and spirit;
- We have a sizeable number of children, elderly people and those suffering from conditions like lung disease, heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes have a far greater risk of contracting it. They should in no case be permitted to venture out. Youngsters too should adhere to social/physical distancing practices to slow the spread of the virus;
- It is our moral/ethical duty to take care of the needy, the poor and the destitute including non-locals living in our vicinities and help them in the best possible way. The Social Welfare Committees, NGOs and Charitable Trusts ought to remain active during this crisis for the purpose; and
- The authorities, after going through the exercise of lockdown, may consider further restrictions, if needed, so that the contagion spread is contained and controlled.
Today, the world is lurching under devastating impact of unforeseen calamity exposing societies, institutions, systems, human attitudes, sciences and technology. The growing pandemic is going to impact every one of us even if one does not contract it. It has the potential to fundamentally change economic landscape and the pain associated with it will remain entrenched.
Last but not the least, sitting indoors may help citizenry to look inward and introspect. It may make us realize that nature always holds surprises. Let us sanitize our hearts, be there for each other with a new sense of empathy and belonging. We do not know what is going to happen tomorrow. So let us submit, prostrate and pray to Almighty Allah asking to forgive our sins, guide us all to the straight path and show mercy on us. This way HE will certainly alleviate our sufferings and spare humankind from the wrath of the pandemic.
The writer is a former Commerce Teacher.