Not again

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Not again

Saturday, 18 March 2023 | Pioneer

Not again

The Centre and states are gearing up to tackle the new infections but this should not result in panic

The Central Government’s directive to Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Telangana, Gujarat and Maharashtra regarding the possible spread of Covid-19, HINI and H3N2 has come well in time. As they say, forewarned is forearmed. The Government has asked the six States to focus on testing, genome sequencing for prescribed Covid-19 samples of international passengers, and implementation of Covid-compliant behaviour.

Thankfully, there is little on the horizon to suggest that the situation is getting out of hand, though two deaths have been reported in Maharashtra has reported two suspected deaths due to the H3N2 virus—an MBBS student who was infected with both H1N1 and H3N2, and a 74-year-old man from Nagpur who tested positive for H3N2. As The Pioneer reported, an analysis of the Covid cases reported in the March 8-14 period showed that nine districts across the country recorded Covid-positivity rates of greater than or equal to 10 per cent.

The states are spread across the entire length and breadth of the country—Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat. It is good that states are also gearing up to meet the challenge, if it arises. The State Government in Delhi has set up isolation wards, whiles Puducherry has shut down schools till March 26. This has been a very bad flu season, and H3N2 is said to be responsible for this. It can cause long and severe illness, which may necessitate hospitalisation. There can also be fatalities, as we noticed.

Even as the Centre and State governments are taking precautions, they must ensure that precautionary measures in any way do not result in panic or knee-jerk reactions at any level. Both people and the economy have had enough of the climate of fear, lockdowns, and the ensuing disruptions. It must be mentioned here that unlike three years ago, no medical expert has expressed fears of an impending pandemic or even an epidemic as yet.

 Yes, we must be prepared for the worst, but this should not lead to any disruptions. It has taken a long time for the economy to reach the pre-Covid levels. And even now our growth engine is not exactly turbo-charged. Former Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan may have exaggerated the current sluggishness in the economy, but our growth rate at present is far from optimal. Against this backdrop, a loose comment from an important government functionary or an announcement hinting at a medical emergency would be very bad for the economy.

Besides, it would be very difficult for people to face another round of restrictions, movement inconvenience, and mental trauma. The Covid pandemic tested everyone’s patience and perseverance, and no one is in a position to undergo the same torment. The four-fold strategy of test, track, treat, and vaccinate is already being followed. There shouldn’t be any slackness on that count.

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