Lockdowns are speed breakers that can help control the pace of spread of an epidemic. It’s not a magic cure that our governments want it to be. Today, Kerala will enter the 35th day of lockdown, imposed to tackle the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, and there’s no certainty as to when the unlocking process will begin. As the second wave became apparent, health experts demanded that the state be locked down for two weeks in the second half of April as they predicted the peak transmission period to be around the third week of the month. It was also predicted that the pandemic wave will peak with the maximum number of active cases in the second week of May and the decline would start thereafter. The data now available correlates with the predictions. The peak of transmission, according to experts, was around April 28 while the peak of the disease was on May 12 when 43,529 new cases were reported, along with a record TPR of 29.7%.
The imposition of lockdown was delayed up to May 8, but there’s no denying that it did help the government manage the situation as most of the districts had run out of ICU and ventilator beds by then. Things became better in the coming days with the demand for hospital beds declining steadily. The average TPR for the last seven days is 14.38% and the active caseload has come down to 1,35,298 from the high of 4,42,194 (May 14). Despite the steady improvement in parameters, the government has chosen to continue with the lockdown. If the relatively high TPR is the reason, the blame rests solely on the government’s inconsistent testing strategy. From the peak of 1.6 lakh tests a day, the daily average has fallen to 1.1 lakh, and there’s no justification for reducing tests when the aim is to bring down the TPR. It must make amends on that front.
Prolonging the lockdown is not a viable strategy. While all sectors are suffering, the crippling restrictions have started affecting lives beyond reasonable limits. Livelihood is as important as life. The government, while adopting other options available to rein in the contagion, must start unlocking, at least in a phased manner.