People are learning to live with every messy decision.

Sep 26, 2022

The second wave of the Covid-19 shows how messy our healthcare systems are and how generously we play double standard in the name of social distancing. When every second person is testing positive, no tight restrictions can remain alive for long. Even in our nightmares, we didn’t think the government would take this card again. The experience was worse and the result was heavily disappointing, still using the same strategy. 

Now 13 months through the trouble. Of late, it is getting worse. A whole house has been burned to kill the lizard on the girder. The purpose isn’t achieved. The burned house bears the face of a ghost. Yet we laugh it off. That is how we can summarize the terrific mismanagement of the Cvid-19 pandemic. Now we have started counting the wave, which Europe, the US and Brazil are said to be passing through. The second wave has created a storm, though not much is remaining to raze down, much to gain for those who engineered a plan of action. In the injudicious last laugh, shrewd ones are the gainers.

The second wave is bringing back the old mistake of lockdown. However, practically the lockdown is unworkable as people cannot or are reluctant to go by it. Enough is enough, people believe. The Central government, which was aggressive in declaring lockdown in the early stage last year, has now seemingly relinquished its role of captaincy in taking the decision. The responsibility is assigned to the State governments. The State governments have reassigned the task to municipalities and village panchayats, passing the buck from one to another down the line. That shows the late arrival of prudence, but unlearning of the past mistake too, as the government is still tossing with the idea of general lockdown.

Even after repeated lockdown, there was no considerable decrease in numbers. The numbers increased. Otherwise, for every matter, we rely on research studies, experts’ decisions, multi-faceted projects etc., if they are favourable. Usually, the government used to do good homework, before making major decisions. But in this case, the decision was abrupt sans prudence.

Now the Central government acted passively on the issue of lockdown, passing the responsibility to the State government or local governing authorities, giving a kind of relief to the Central government from a possible future blame game. Going by the reason of the last year’s decision, India’s financial and political capitals would have gone under stricter restrictions. In any way, the Covid-19 is making people afraid of their life and livelihood.

On the other side, people have learned to live with the situation that is now said to be in a mess. Cities are in a disarray. Hospitals are overcrowded and even for rich or influential people, including politicians and bureaucrats no bed is available in hospitals. Test results come too late, often as late as 15 days. Popularly used medicines have gone out of stock. Those medicines are sold on the black market at a manifold premium. The stock of oxygen cylinders is declining. The blame game on healthcare mismanagement continued. The looters will have a field day when the Central and State governments enter their slumber rooms. Eventually, every action of the government bounces back to leave behind a bigger healthcare disaster.

The isolation and social distancing prove to be irrelevant and fruitless. The imprudent action of drawing a line between hospitals as Covid-19 hospitals and general-category hospitals has gone away. Now patients are mixed in hospitals. Doctors and paramedics are freely mixing with patients. Masks and personal protection covers are gradually being removed. Everyone is moving to their comfort zones keeping restrictions only on papers. Here we understand the huge gap between what is practical in day-to-day life and what can only be theory in papers. Ultimately, it is only practicality that prevails. As the second wave was raging, one day I visited a big hospital. The medical staff were found indifferent with their PPT and mask. Even though some of them don’t wear it, they ask others to do it. Recently one of my friends told me, 15 days ago he visited a Covid-19 hospital patients’ ward and happened to be there for 40 minutes before the hospital staff identified him as a visitor. He was unaffected. The combination of a fear factor, exorbitant looting in the name of medicines, plenty of wrong notions, dangerous treatment method and pandemic mismanagement contributed hugely to the present crisis.

It is not the first time the human world is witnessing a pandemic. The present generation may not have witnessed a pandemic earlier. However, there are enough empirical pieces of evidence to collect and look into. The quarantine of the infected and suspicious candidates was in force in the last century pandemic, but not the downright lockdown. The term wasn’t there in the books of the pandemic in those days. Imagine, the medical science then wasn’t as developed as of now. The medical infrastructure had not grown to the present level. Still, the earlier pandemic was brought under control in a shorter duration.

It seemed, India borrowed the term lockdown from the urbanized European states, where lockdown was not greater than an average urban micro containment of India. China, the origin of the pandemic, did not lockdown completely to bring the virus under control. Reported or unreported, China brought it under control. The rest of the world never knew what China had done to claim the eradication of Covid-19. But India borrowed the idea of lockdown from Europe to control the infection initially in the name of breaking the chain. At the same time, India did not replicate the model of compensation schemes that Europeans and Americans offered to their citizens.

The blind borrowing came at a huge cost. The purpose wasn’t achieved. Yet, we couldn’t realise the extent of the senselessness. A step ahead, we have even chosen to forget it. We are bent on repeating the mistake and side-lining unwarrantable actions. Those are no simple mistakes, but instances of unjustifiably and inexcusably huge double standard. All these show how big ambiguity, frequent change in SOPs and poor vision that our lawmakers hold.

After the Covid-19 induced lockdown, we had two sets of big State elections. In both elections, politicians, ministers and government machinery followed no restrictions. This year’s polls in four major states of West Bengal, Assam, Kerala and Tamil Nadu witnessed the fiercest campaign with rallies attending lakhs of people. On the stages of the campaign where VVIPs including the Prime minister and the Home Minister were present, a large number of attendants were seen without a mask. None did care. No one was known to have imposed a penalty on those election campaigners for not wearing masks. Poll-bound states did not report an alarming number of infections during the campaign phase. Surprisingly, the Covid-19 management was under control in those states during the campaign time. The virus excused the poll-states is a joke, but a reality. As the poll was over, the regions began to report big numbers.

Not just the election carnivals, which did not mind the pandemic, but many other events too. We saw Indian Premier League (IPL) match. The pandemic did not hit the fanfare of IPL. We have Kumbh Mela with an estimated attendance of 120 million people in over four and half months. Be it in the election campaign, festival congregations, marriage ceremonies or the money-spinning cricket matches, the talks of social distancing were only water-marks.

It is time for the government to accept Covid-19 as a normal disease. There is no need to designate any hospitals for exclusive care. It will be really helpful for the patients and health care systems to give better care to the patients, which will only limit the treatment infrastructure and delay in solving the problems. Doctors also know many of the patients visiting non-Covid-19 hospitals are Covid-19 infected candidates. Covid-19 patients are freely moving outside, making the isolation a farce, because people cannot leave isolated. It is already proven, a restriction is not a solid solution but a contributor to the trouble.

After all the curtains were down, the talks of lockdown re-emerged thick in the air. People are forced to live with the lockdown of rulers’ convenience and their foul play with the pandemic. Laughably, of late, none is ready to bell the black-cat, a dangerous game. But with pity, a big salute to the people, who are learning to live with the mess and the virus. Only the government seems to have problems.

It seems the gestures of the Delhi government are inducing Maharashtra to make stronger decisions to curtail the movement of the common people. It wanted to write a new history as if that would talk admirably for the harsher steps in containing the pandemic.

One puzzle is solved to create more puzzles. Is this a new technique of resolving the concerns of people? I am from an old school of thoughts with the habit of thinking more wisely. While letting the media present a waste bin full of gossips and terrifying people, the government should have assigned Asha workers to visit door-to-door for creating awareness about the pandemic among people what precaution each household must take. In cities, where the impact is severe, the government should have encouraged and allowed a consortium of housing societies to arrange medical care, including an arrangement of oxygen cylinders.