Green shoots in the economy do not mean that the pandemic is a thing of the past. It is even more necessary to take measures to avoid endangering this nascent economic recovery. The ongoing festival season and the onset of winter are critical moments — failing to take adequate precaution could lead to increase in Covid cases. Already, the number of infections is on the rise — on Wednesday, the country reported 50,209 fresh cases, the highest one-day jump in two weeks.
Tackling Covid effectively requires preventive and proactive measures at every level. It is critical that individuals strictly observe precautionary behaviour: using masks, maintaining social distancing, and handwashing. Local authorities and state governments need to focus on collective efforts such as improved waste collection and management, avoiding unnecessary construction, ensuring adequate medical facilities, availability of doctors and other healthcare personnel, and medicines. Pollution control is another critical area, especially in north India where the winter months are marked by high levels of pollution. Studies have demonstrated that prolonged exposure to poor air quality increases vulnerability to Covid. Differences in opinion notwithstanding, the adverse health impact of prolonged exposure to dirty air make people susceptible to respiratory tract infections. Rather than indulge in blame games, state governments must focus on controlling pollution in their jurisdictions.
The Centre, too, has a role. It must continue to provide assistance to states when required, provide oversight and focus on issues such as vaccine development and rollout. Controlling the pandemic is the responsibility of each and everyone, individually and collectively.