THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: As the state gets sucked into the second wave of Covid-19, with the number of Covid positive cases spiralling rapidly after the assembly elections, the state is now face-to-face with a Frankenstein of its own making.
According to experts, every Covid-19 rule was flouted and caution was thrown to the wind by political parties and persons involved in the election proceedings, thereby pushing the state into a battle with its own economy.
As the state braces for more crowd control measures including criminalising any violation of Covid-19 protocol and implementation of night curfew, thereby throwing life yet again into disarray and causing a crunch in the economy, experts opine that this was a disaster that could have been averted had the state ensured the implementation of strict Covid-19 protocols during the electioneering process. The assembly elections saw every other party violating all Covid-19 norms, holding mass rallies and roadshows as the police and the district administration failed to enforce protocols.
Former chief secretary Jiji Thomson said that while a blame game wouldn’t serve any purpose now, the focus must be on addressing the situation at hand. “Our economy can’t handle another lockdown. A one-month lockdown means a 2% reduction in GDP. We cannot afford it. We have to learn to live with Covid-19,” he said. Remarking that the third wave of Covid-19 will be deadly and that extraordinary situations call for extraordinary solutions, he said: “We have to launch mass vaccination drives on a war footing and also implement strict Covid-19 protocol.”
The administration had on Sunday issued orders for implementation of strict lockdown proceeding in containment zones, thereby causing a worry among businesses and technocrats. Dr G Vijayaraghavan, the founder of Technopark, has said that as we stare at another health crisis and lockdown in the aftermath of the elections, we are paying for our own indiscipline.
“Forget social distancing, people weren’t even standing six inches apart from each other during election campaigns. Everyone who was part of the election proceedings is responsible for this disaster. Forget the economy, an individual won’t be able to survive another lockdown,” said Dr Vijayaraghavan. He said massive testing, vaccination, and following individual discipline will only help tide over the crisis.
According to health experts, the next three to four weeks are very crucial. “We are staring at a disaster and are in the second wave of Covid-19. Had adequate precautions been taken during the elections, this could have been avoided. The next three to five weeks are very crucial. We will be seeing a lot of positive cases in the next 5 to 7 days. It is a drain on the state’s infrastructure and resources but we created this disaster. The only solution is to enforce restrictions and follow them for the next four weeks. Only that can curtail the spread,” says R C Sreekumar, chairman, IMA Research Cell. “It is a good sign that cases are coming down in the neighbouring states.
So people here getting affected by the infected from other states is ruled out. It is the spread within our community that needs to be tackled and all efforts should be taken towards this end,” he added. A former senior retired government official has said that the lackadaisical attitude during the elections has pushed the state into such a difficult situation. According to the official, a self-imposed lockdown and strict following of protocols are the need of the hour. “If we had followed strict Covid-19 protocol during LSG polls, it would have set a precedent and it would have reflected during assembly elections. The Election Commission and the police could have easily ensured that Covid-19 protocols are followed during the elections. But this negligence has put us in this state, staring at another crisis,” said the official.
ECONOMY HAS TO GO ON: HARILAL
Economist K N Harilal said that the election process and other essential proceedings need to be carried out and have to be done with restrictions. “If Covid-19 is going to persist for another two years, it isn’t about calling off every other activity, rather, carrying it on with restrictions in place. Individuals should ensure that they aren’t spreading the disease. The economy has to go on. All business and economic activities should be allowed with restrictions. Not all Covid cases are emergency cases. So more investments need to be done in hospitals to equip them to handle emergency cases,” said Harilal.