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The Financial Express

OPINION

Only urban hotbeds call for stricter lockdown


-File photo -File photo

One of the highly disconcerting facts is that the young adults have been getting infected by the Covid-19 at a phenomenal rate. According to the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), as high as 68.8 per cent people aged between 19 and 48 were infected on April 5 last. As against this, only 27 per cent above 49 years old was infected. But when it comes to the rate of death, as the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) shows, it is an overwhelming 80.73 per cent of the elderly people who died of the disease.

The figures of a single day may or may not be truly representative of the casualty trends of coronavirus but the recent surge gives some worrying indications. That there is a major presence of the South African variant of the pathogen has also been shown by a limited study. There was a need for keeping a track of all such trends but unfortunately the institutes capable of doing so seem to be hardly keen enough to carry out this unrewarding responsibility. True, many of these government organizations and institutes are overwhelmed now because the entire system went into a mood of relaxation once the number of death dropped down to a single digit and infections also fell drastically.

Had there been the average age-wise figures of death and infection for a week or a fortnight and the variant responsible for exponential spread of the disease, there would be a clear picture of the health crisis the nation is going to encounter. This will also depend on whether the hotter the summer the more the infection. As the pandemic proves overwhelming, there is however one reassuring message. The message is that villages all across the country have been mostly spared. Villagers generally view, for valid reasons, this as an urban-centric disease.

This should be enough cause for reviewing the pandemic from a different perspective. The perspective is that there is no need to put the entire country under a hard lockdown. Urban centres which act as the hotbed should be placed under such strict restrictions -- even night curfew may be an option. In that case a list should be prepared of the working class people who will need food aid during the lockdown period and must be provided with the wherewithal.        

Now why only the hotbed urban centres should be brought under such extreme measures needs some explanation. Let's assume that the trends of infection and death of April 5 are modestly representative. This shows that the young adults who are mostly carefree in their movement and maintaining health protocols are getting infected at an increasing rate. They become the carriers and infect the elder members at home. It is well-nigh impossible to maintain physical distance and there is no question of wearing facemask at home.

Since most people of the 19 to 48 age group do not even know they have been infected unless their health condition deteriorates, the chances of infecting elder members in the family is high. By the time they know they are infected, saving lives of the elder members of their families diminishes. This explains why the majority of infected people are young adults but more elderly people die. Since hospitals are struggling to attend patients, the critical patients in particular, because of a lack of facilities of intensive care units with ventilators, the problem will grow acuter with the rise of patients.

So, there is no alternative to a harsh lockdown. But it does not mean the entire country has to be brought to a halt. Let supplies of essential and perishable commodities continue as usual. Only this has to be done in compliance with health protocols. The law enforcement agencies trained in such matters should be engaged to monitor transportation of such goods to the mutual benefits of both producers and consumers. Disruption of supplies caused poultries, dairy farms and farmers of vegetables, fruits and such items incur heavy losses during the first wave of the pandemic. This should not happen now.

 

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