Maintain the balance between aid and ailment

At the time of writing, it has become evident that a further weeklong lockdown will be imposed in the ICR post the three-week lockdown ongoing against a steady rise in Covid cases in the second wave that has swept the state.

That lockdowns are an absolute necessity to curb the swirling cases count is not debatable and I am cognizant of the precarious situation the state may be pushed into if the cases continue to increase in the current pace, given the sordid state of our public health system. In that light, lockdown impositions are a bitter but the prudent prescription for the current wave.

However, one has to, in this case the administration, be fully wary of the fine line that demarcates the aid and the ailment. Utmost caution should be exercised that we do not overstep this line, wherein the cure becomes more damaging than the original disease, more so in cases where we may be failing to appreciate the viability of the alternatives.

While lockdowns are necessary, they are not feasible, nor are they viable in a highly stratified society like ours, wherein the lower strata, comprising daily wage labourers, auto drivers, informal sector workers, poor students, etc, are left extremely vulnerable in sustained lockdowns like the ongoing one.

To that end, I believe, given that the second wave is nowhere near abating anytime soon and the varied but massive costs of lockdowns are aggregating fast, the capital administration has to urgently devise ways to counter the second wave beyond such lockdowns.

This approach may lead us to aggressive contact tracing, random tests, specified containment zones, targeted vaccine drives and a strict surveillance on Covid SOPs in public and high-risk zones. Furthermore, steps like odd-even rule for vehicles, staggered shop timings, nighttime lockdowns, ban on gatherings, etc, can complement an alternative, and more likely a better approach, at combating the second wave than complete lockdowns. This can also include financial assistance to all the vulnerable sections of the society.

I implore the administration to maintain the balance between the aid and the ailment by abstaining from direct lockdowns in the near future and instead fight the current wave with more ingenuity and inclusivity.

Takio Tayung,