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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Mask, jab, test: Instead of blundering down the lockdown route again, focus on what works (TOI)

Times of India’s Edit Page team comprises senior journalists with wide-ranging interests who debate and opine on the news and issues of the day.

Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray’s directive to officials to prepare the roadmap for a second lockdown has predictably triggered massive anxiety. The second Covid wave has progressed rapidly, not just in Maharashtra, but in Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. The uptick was noticeable around mid-February and a surge was becoming clearly evident by month’s end, prompting Maharashtra to lock down a few districts. Despite the mini-lockdowns, cases have risen across the state in March, questioning the persistence with this leaky strategy.

With its strong industrial base and status as India’s wealthiest state, a lockdown in Maharashtra will be keenly felt within the state and outside. Small businesses and migrant workers will become repeat casualties of a deep freeze on economic activities. Amid the state reporting over 30,000 cases daily, a lockdown will hit mobility, hindering Covid patients from getting tested and thereafter securing timely access to medical treatment. Accessible testing and vaccination is critically needed at this hour. Though Maharashtra leads the country in tests and vaccination doses, the current positivity rate and case counts call for a massive scale-up of the present numbers.

Centre must also cooperate in this effort by releasing as many vaccine doses as Maharashtra demands, so that supply doesn’t become a constraint on daily inoculation targets. Bureaucratic roadblocks that prevent taking the vaccines to doorsteps are counterproductive in a pandemic. The widespread disregard for masking, proven by East Asian countries as the most effective virus suppression method, is worrisome. It speaks poorly of our administrators that something so inexpensive and fundamental to the anti-Covid fight gets scant attention.

N-95 masks cost just a fraction of an RT-PCR test or vaccination and their accompanying infrastructure. But barring isolated gestures there has been no effort anywhere in India to distribute them free of cost. The mixed messaging on masking, especially by politicians on the election trail and religious congregations, is sending wrong signals to ordinary people. Beyond sanctimonious statements preaching caution, governments must take vaccination and masks to localities instead of hoping people avail them. The 51% rise in Covid deaths last week over the previous week is the relevant statistic meriting great attention. With vaccines already available, masks proven to work, and early testing and hospitalisation key to lower mortality, every death has become preventable. Flattening this second wave with minimal economic disruption is possible. Governments need to work much harder on this.

Courtesy - TOI


Help Sampadkiya Team in maintaining this website

इस वेबसाइट को जारी रखने में यथायोग्य मदद करें -

-Rajeev Kumar (Editor-in-chief,


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