Time to act: Second Covid wave
Sir — In this second wave of Covid-19, the virus is spreading at a faster pace than last year, and the health ministry has alerted the people that the next four weeks are going to be critical (“Get ready”, April 7). Now who is to be held accountable for this situation? The common citizens as well as the authorities have brought this plight upon the country. As lockdowns and strict restrictions were lifted, most people began to flout the norms that should have been followed. Further, the vaccination drive gave the people a false sense of safety; they seemed convinced that if the remedy is already available then the malady cannot be fatal any more.
Election campaigns in some states saw leaders and party workers completely ignoring all Covid protocol, since their aim was to amass votes rather than caring for the safety of the people. Rules were allowed to be flouted during religious festivals — congregations took place at various places — simply in order to appease the electorate along the lines of religion.
Now the Centre is emphasizing the need for ‘people’s participation’ in controlling the second wave of the pandemic. The cooperation of the people is indeed crucial. Lockdowns can break the economic spine of the nation; the only alternative is to follow safety measures sincerely, keeping in mind that negligence is equal to imperilling oneself, one’s society, and the nation as a whole.
Sir — The second wave of Covid-19 appears to be more dangerous than the first as the number of active cases is rising at a rapid pace. This week, on several days, the country recorded a daily spike of over one lakh cases. The Centre has already warned the people about the gravity of the situation.
While people were thoroughly scared by the first outbreak of this novel virus strain and tried to follow containment measures undertaken by the government earnestly, now it seems that they have become complacent with regard to following protocol even when they know that such behaviour risks their own lives and jeopardizes the health of others.
The rapid spread of the virus in different parts of the country is truly a cause for concern. The situation must be remedied immediately. The pace at which the vaccination drive is being conducted must be increased. More people should be considered for inoculation — the age group covered must be expanded from above 45 to above 30 now. Those who are not following Covid prevention rules should be penalized since the casual approach of some people towards this crisis may prove to be costly for a large part of the population.
Sir — The gravity of the situation with respect to the second wave of Covid-19 can be gauged from the comparative time taken for the spike in cases. While last year, it took 61 days for active cases to jump from 25,000 to 92,000, this time the same number took just 22 days. Governments must be held accountable for this — they ‘unlocked’ the states and allowed gatherings for electioneering, weddings and other festivities without masks or social distancing rules. People were also misled by scientists who predicted the end of the pandemic by February this year. Many people on social media also downplayed the seriousness of the issue.
There are only a few remedies now. Door-to-door vaccination is a must, accompanied by an increase in testing and tracing. The government should focus on strengthening the healthcare infrastructure of the country. All gatherings — political and social — must be cancelled at once. Finally, it needs to be ensured that lockdown norms are followed strictly.
K. Nehru Patnaik,
Back in focus
Sir — The Congress has demanded an independent probe into the Rs 60,000 crore Rafale jet deal after a section of the French media claimed that Dassault agreed to pay one million euros as bribe to a middleman in India. The government has been asked if this merits a ban on the company. There must be an explanation from and action on the part of the government so that the people of India can find out the truth.
Sir — There seems to be no end to the Rafale controversy. Even as new Rafale aircraft are arriving in India, allegations of bribery in the purchase have reared their head. While the case must no doubt be thoroughly investigated, the Opposition should also find new ammunition to attack the Centre with.
Sir — Having lived in Calcutta for a while, I have come to know my locality like the back of my hand. But something seemed unfamiliar last evening. Soon I figured that I had never seen the lanes this clean with all the street lights working. This should not have been surprising; it is ‘election season’ after all, and the government is going all out to get people’s votes. But this trend is not unique to Bengal. Across India, polls serve as an alarm for ruling regimes. The prime minister had once said that there should be one election in the nation. On the contrary, there should be polls round the year to keep governments on their toes.