As the Covid-19 pandemic furiously spreads its wings across the country, state governments are in a big dilemma. Nobody is in favour of a complete lockdown and shutting down the economy, especially after the prime minister’s warning last week, but the rising number of active cases and the death toll is giving them jitters. Everyone learnt a hard lesson from the complete shutdown in the first wave, which forced thousands of migrants to walk days on end to reach their homes in faraway places. The economic growth fell to a deep gorge and is still struggling to get out of it. Yet, many states have now enforced restrictions in order to slow the spread of the pandemic.
The sudden surge in the number of fatalities has forced everyone to look at the third wave more seriously. On January 20, India reported more than 700 fatalities, with Kerala recording the highest at 341. Delhi, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal have also seen a sudden swell in the death toll. While both Delta and Omicron are creating havoc in Kerala, other states are facing the less virulent but fast-spreading newer variant. As per a study in Tamil Nadu, 95% of recent deaths are linked to comorbidities and lack of vaccination. Doctors and public health experts have also warned us that the toll may rise.
This is the prime reason why states have gone ahead and announced Sunday lockdowns and night curfews, apart from stopping people from crowding at market places and such. This is likely to lead to an economic loss as many establishments and industries, especially the tourism and hospitality sector, are hit badly. But will these measures help the state government rein in the spread? What is more important is that the governments have to walk an extra mile to get people vaccinated, and force them to wear face masks and follow other Covid-appropriate behaviour. Many states are still going slow with their vaccination campaigns. If the pandemic is allowed to spread and build natural immunity among people, the death toll among the unvaccinated and the elderly with comorbidities will see a rapid rise.