A lot on the state government’s plate

Clipped from: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/

Opening up after nearly two months of lockdown does not mean throwing caution to the winds. Rather, it means taking measures that build on the gains — a slower virus transmission rate, increased healthcare capacity, systems to ensure social distancing and other hygienic practices — made during the lockdown. State governments are now in the driver’s seat, determining the way the lockdown is being lifted. It makes it critical for state governments to avoid any measure that erodes the gains made during the lockdown. This means more testing, not less, more effective contact tracing, and not less. Most of all, it requires states to be transparent to the people about the numbers infected and deaths, and their level of medical preparedness. The Centre, on its part, must ensure speedy validation or otherwise of new testing kits and modules readied by assorted agencies, to increase the scale of testing.

‘Learn to live’ with Covid-19 is something that healthcare community, scientists and governments across the world realised ever since the World Health Organisation declared Covid- 19 a global pandemic in March. National governments understood that, pending curative therapies and vaccines, the world had to learn to live with this extremely contagious infectious disease. The focus then was to slow down the transmission rate of the virus, in order to step up healthcare capacities. Hence the lockdown, which also gave governments an opportunity to plan for ‘living with Covid’. In a bid to avoid blowback from a lockdown-fatigued populace, many states have turned less than careful about managing hot spots and Covid cases. State governments need to step up contact tracing and testing, ensuring support from the central government if their capacities are lacking.

It is clear that the country cannot remain in lockdown forever, and opening up is the only way forward. Given the extremely contagious nature of Covid-19, it is imperative to take greater care as more spheres of activity are opened up, and, alongside, states step up to their varied and crucial responsibilities.

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