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    When lockdown comes again

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    With the Covid virus moving to a phase of community spread,  there are legitimate apprehensions that a complete lockdown will be slapped again.  Bihar has announced that the state will go into complete lockdown for two weeks from today;  major citiein several states s are under lockdown;  in Uttar Pradesh,  a full lockdown has been declared for the weekend from 10 pm Friday until 5 am Monday. Assam's capital Guahati has been in lockdown since 28 June,  and Pune in Maharasahtra and Bengaluru are already in lockdown since 13 and 14 June respectively.  Kolkatta is in partial lockdown through select containment zones.  In Kerala, capital Thiruvananthapuram has been under triple lockdown since 6 July.  Altogether,  across ten states,  at least a third of the population is under lockdown.  When the country after spending  68 trying days of lockdown,  started switching to a new normal lifestyle,  it was not done with any comfort that the battle with the disease was over,  but at a time when the spread of the virus was more evident and many areas had moved partially to community transmission.  

    The central governement,  which was in an inert mode when the world was going all out in Covid pevention mode,  declared a nationwide lockdown on 24 March, after many other countries did so.  And that too was done quite abruptly with a notice of just four hours with no circumspection about the country's unique geographical and social factors at play,  and was even ignoring the federal structure of the country.  And apart from th prime minister Narendra Modi's quoting of epics and puranas and romantic suggestions of gonging utensils and lighting lamps,  the Centre did not by itself do much for a serious prevention of the pandemic bearing the risk of rapid spread.  This is what emerges from India's experience of fast surging to the top among covid-affected countries.   An example is that two weeks into the lockdown announcement, India had 417 districts unaffected by the virus,  but after two months thence it has come down to 49.   Experts are mostly unanimous that through the countrywide lockdown,  the virus could not be brought under control.  When the economic disaster came in a more worrying manner than the infecton,  India was in the process of relaxing the lockdown.  With civic life thus opening up,  the lack of restraint among the people accelerated the spread of the disease.  When capital Delhi and mega cities of Mumbai,  and  Ahmedabad the capital of the prime minister's home state Gujarat, were fast moving to a serious situation,  the central and state governments were washing their hands off without facilitating adequate tests and treatment facilities.

    Now many states are being forced to reimpose lockdown.  Mostly,  only those locations with virus spread going out of control,  are brought under the restrictions.  Even earliler,  experts had advised that instead of the entire country going into a uniform lockdown,  it would be more effective to impose it in proportion to the extent of virus spread, and provide famliarisation with new the normal life style in parallel with tests and treatment.  Many of the states in north India,  which declare partial lockdown,  are reportedly are without such treatment and awareness drives.  And warnings have already been given that this will only serve to worsen the situation.  If this continues,  and because the second lockdown is likely to hit more the financial nerve centres in Maharashtra and UP,  it will be difficult for an economically backbroken India straighten it.

    In this aspect,  Kerala did move in a meritorious manner.  The state's model of declaring triple lockdown in severely affected areas,  widening tests and treatment and intensifying preventive awareness,  is a model for other states to emulate.   But the nascent tendency in the state is that it is not only happening along desired lines,  but the people also appear to be backtracking on their path of caution,  as indicated by the rising number of Covid cases.  As of yesterday,  the daily toll has crossed 600,  out of which 451 are through community contacts.  This also raises a concern of the people slipping into a carefree life style.  As the chief minister said,  when the return of lockdown inother parts of the country is a result of letting things go out of hand, it is important to keep it in mind that we are into a third phase of the pandemic.   In this phase, the virus can spread from any one,  and the need of the hour to break the chain is to keep a vigil which carries a price tag of one's own life.

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