To wear or not to wear!
The Hamletian dilemma continues. Assam which witnessed mega poll rallies attended by political heavyweights like PM Modi, Amit Shah, Rahul Gandhi and many more in presence of thousands of people has suddenly found itself in a tricky position.
Amidst the election season when the fear of Covid 19 had almost vanished, the trauma of a possible lockdown yet again haunting the people of the state immediately after the poll ended.
Suddenly, the numbers of Covid 19 cases start rocketing in the state. The same health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma who has even rejected the protocol of wearing a mask and accept the fact that the state is facing the second wave of Covid19 like the rest of the world has now issued a fresh SOP and said that masks are mandatory while attending Bihu functions.
In city, task force has been formed to enforce wearing of masks at Bihu functions and violators will be slapped with a fine of Rs 1000.
The question that is now creating confusion amongst commoners is that why this surge in the numbers of Covid positive cases immediately after the polls. And the question of what to follow- to wear a mask or not as Sarma said earlier.
A year after the imposition of the world’s strictest lockdown, India is now in the grip of a second Covid-19 wave. Aided by new variants, Covid-19 is spreading rapidly as is the proclivity of governments for subjective mini lockdowns, weekend lockdowns, full lockdowns and night curfews.
In his meeting with chief ministers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi ruled out the possibility of a national lockdown, pushing instead for a localised, micro containment strategy with increased testing and tracing.
Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal too has asked the health department not to let go of guards and conduct massive tests to identify positive cases.
Even when the state is celebrating the festivities of the much-awaited Rongali Bihu, the state health department has started to shoot SOPs after SOPs for the public and Bihu organizers. The Bihu organizers have even registered their resentments over government restrictions on the timing of the musical functions during the festivities.
But the reality is that the state needs better public health infrastructure and funding that go beyond protective kits and testing labs. Localised strategies require enhanced surveillance capacity, increased human resources at the community level and improved data systems.
When the first wave began to abate, we had the opportunity to learn lessons and devise policies to respond to a possible second wave and future pandemics. Instead, we got policy complacency and now a repeat of history.