To err is human, as that old saying goes, but to make the same mistake again and again without learning what needs to be learnt from it cannot always be excusable – especially when it endangers other people’s lives.
As India slowly inches closer to seeing the back of the deadly second wave of Covid-19, with daily cases and deaths steadily trending downwards, concerns about a third wave are rising by the day thanks to the way people across the country are reacting to – or are predicted to react to – relaxation of Covid restrictions after long weeks of lockdowns, shutdowns and night curfews.
A recently conducted survey showed that nearly a third of its participants were planning to visit malls and restaurants over the coming two months. While a staggering 75 percent were expecting domestic help and service providers at their homes within 30 days, 43 percent were looking forward to visits from friends and relatives during the same period.
This, at a time when the country is still reporting more than 60,000 Covid-positive cases and hundreds of deaths every day.
Many medical professionals and government authorities across India have been repeatedly warning that the Covid-19 danger is far from over as there is an imminent possibility of a relapse.
As reports of crowded markets and malls began surfacing almost immediately after easing of lockdown restrictions in various parts of the country, most notably in the national capital, the Union Home Ministry had to write a letter to all states and union territories advising them to implement the unlock process in “a carefully calibrated manner”, without complacency and with complete adherence to Covid-appropriate protocol.
Back home, while leaving no stone unturned to boost Odisha’s infrastructure and ability to deal with crises like the ongoing pandemic, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has been tirelessly stressing on the critical importance of being extra-cautious despite the fast-improving Covid situation.
Over the past 11 days, he has laid foundation stones for 15 medical oxygen generation plants as part of his government’s plans to open 20 such facilities across Odisha by the end of this year. Patnaik’s commitment to his “every life is precious” mantra was also more than evident in the Rs 1,690 crore relief package that he announced recently for socio-economically weaker sections, such as construction workers, MGNREGS workers, landless farmers, remote tribes and urban poor, who were most affected by the pandemic.
The government, both at the Centre and state level, has been doing its bit to prevent and be better prepared for a third wave. Considering the way things have transpired in Europe (France, Germany, and now in the UK), there may be no avoiding one in India. But it is certainly possible to control how quickly or how forcefully it comes.
Apart from the economic burden that Covid-19 has put on the nation, too many precious lives have been lost to it since the outbreak last year, either directly or indirectly. The recent demise of noted IPS officer, Director Vigilance of Odisha Police and award-winning Odia writer Debasis Panigrahi – who had taken his second dose of Covid vaccine early this month – due to complications caused by the deadly virus points to the still unpredictable and ever-mutating challenge that Covid-19 poses.
It is important to remember that the Delta variant, which is driving the surge of Covid cases in Britain at present, was first found in India. And it is even more important for everyone to realise that those who continue to flout pandemic rules – after all that has happened in all this time – have blood on their hands.