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There is a pandemic resurgence in several parts of the country, particularly Maharashtra and Kerala. The official response must eschew either extreme: lockdown, or acceding to the public’s weariness with Covid protocols. Wearing a mask and avoiding close contact with others, particularly in closed spaces, besides getting vaccinated against the coronavirus at the first available opportunity are the key steps to prevent the spread of Covid — at the individual level. Enforcing these measures, with carrot, stick and innovative advertising, is only one part of the needed official response. Vigorous implementation of the vaccination drive and prolific genetic profiling of virus samples from fresh infections to spot any new mutant strains is another, vital part.
Sharad Pawar is a politician of national stature, but in Maharashtra, he wields special influence. He has done well to cancel all planned public engagements, in the light of a fresh wave of Covid infections. This sets the right example for a lot of people. Others who enjoy similar public esteem must be encouraged to come forward and champion Covid-responsible behaviour.
In the early years of trade union activism, unions played a vigorous role in responding to epidemics such as the plague and cholera, particularly in workers’ residential areas. Trade unions and other social organisations, temples, churches and mosques must be roped in to drive home the importance of maintaining Covid protocols till the disease is brought fully under control. This is more difficult than announcing a lockdown and, thus, appearing to be taking tough action to contain the pandemic. But such facile attempts at containing the virus would extract a huge cost that the nation can ill afford. Punjab is making it clear that health workers who refuse to get vaccinated would lose certain privileges. This is the right thing to do. Those who indulge their vaccine scepticism harm not just themselves but society at large. The message must be driven home, across states. Pandemics are overcome by action, not dither.
This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Economic Times.