Monday, September 25, 2023

Covid is back in China, are we ready to beat it again?

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By Syed Naqvi

Yes, Covid is back. Whether you believe it or not. And this time it is fiercer than the 2020 pandemic.

China has lost its battle against its fight against Covid, which had returned to haunt the country of its origin. It had imposed strict restrictions to prevent the spread of Covid. It faced a revolt from its own people. And then, overnight China lifted all restrictions and left it to the people to live with Covid. The Result: Deaths and overflowing mortuaries.

Reports from China over the last few days of deaths due to Covid are horrifying. I leave it to readers to imagine the terrible catastrophe that awaits the world as I would fail to guess the magnitude of likely deaths in the next few weeks and months. 

Just the estimate of likely deaths due to the present Covid spread in China is said to be 10 per cent of the Chinese population. That translates to more than 10 crore.

Covid has already spread to the USA, Brazil, Japan and South Korea. Can India be far behind? Indians has already suffered several waves of Covid infections and deaths.

The Indian Government has undertaken a stupendous task of vaccinating the entire population, twice over. We survived the 2020 Covid pandemic with Care, Caution and Vaccine.

Do we now have the will power to face, endure another more fiercer 2023 Covid pandemic and survive?

Have we put in place protocols for  preventing Covid from invading India yet again and cause destruction of lives and the economy?

Can we live again? Will 2023 be another 2020 or worse? Or can we beat it again?

Let us look at how the world is back staring at another Covid pandemic. At the time when Covid was declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020 by the WHO, we had no idea about either the nature of this Coronavirus or its treatment and cure. Governments across the world grappled with finding a treatment for it and trying to keep it at bay. It took a year for scientists, pharmaceutical companies and governments to make, market and administer the vaccine and another year for people to be vaccinated. 

We were warned that the virus may wane but will not or cannot be wiped out and thus living with the virus began to be treated as a new normal in our lives. 

We thus started living with the Covid virus. The shrinking of the coverage in newspapers on Covid infections and deaths made us discard the precautions of face masks, sanitisers and do gaz ki doori. A few days ago, the Delhi airport terminals saw a flood of holiday-bound passengers beyond its capacity and people missed their flights. This is in contrast to the empty airport terminals during Covid 19 when airports were shut and aircraft were locked up in and outside their hangars.

Many governments across the world relaxed Covid restrictions and we were back on the roads without masks and social distancing. Sanitisers were abandoned with no refills.

With vaccines to fight Covid having been administered and excess vaccines even destroyed, perhaps a false notion was created by governments and our belief that Covid has gone.   

Work from home, a new normal of working to keep the world moving, was discovered during the pandemic but today the old normal of working in offices is back.

Just when we thought that we have survived the Covid-19 pandemic, we are back staring at square one again.

Covid is here again. We need to prepare ourselves immediately against the outbreak of Covid again from the lessons learnt from Covid-19.

What we must do immediately to prevent the spread, deaths and destruction again from the return of Covid perhaps is to immediately shut our airports to prevent the infection from entering India, get another shot of the Covid vaccine, which the makers must start manufacturing immediately to prevent the return of this dreaded pandemic and get ready for work from home, masks and social distancing, with a hope in heart and a prayer on our lips to pass again.

Syed Naqvi is a senior litigation counsel, Supreme Court

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