Coronavirus: People’s cooperation vital

COVID-19: People’s cooperation vital

As the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in India crosses 110 and two deaths have been reported due to it, governments at the Centre and the states have stepped up measures to trace, detect, test and quarantine people suspected of having contracted the virus. In addition to screening passengers flying in from abroad and setting up facilities for quarantine and treatment of those who test positive for the virus, they have stepped up measures to prevent the virus’ spread among the general populace. To this end, schools have been shut as have malls, theatres and other public places where people tend to gather. Companies have been asked to allow their staff to work from home as far as possible. However, such measures can be effective only if people cooperate with the steps taken by the government. It is worrying that at a time of serious crisis, people are withholding vital information regarding their travel, health situation, etc., putting at risk not only themselves but also others.

In one case, the parents of a woman who had returned from a trip abroad and whose husband had tested positive for coronavirus misled authorities on her whereabouts. She has finally tested positive herself, thus triggering fear that she may have passed on the virus to hundreds of others during her travels within India by flights and trains. Health workers are struggling to track down those who have travelled from abroad or were in contact with infected individuals and they should not be subjected to further stress by unethical behaviour. There have been instances, too, of people who had tested positive fleeing hospitals and quarantine facilities. Then there are those who continue to breach restrictions on mass gatherings. Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa’s presence at a recent wedding in Belagavi sent out the wrong signal, especially as he violated his own directive banning weddings, sports events and other public gatherings of more than a 100 people.

The threat of community transmission of COVID-19 looms large over India. This will impose an unbearable burden on our already creaking health infrastructure. We may not be able to avoid community transmission, but we can delay or slow it down to space the demand on healthcare services to the extent possible. This requires community cooperation in the ongoing efforts to contain the virus’ spread. Irresponsible conduct on the part of a few people may negate the strong efforts being put in by health workers to stem the disease’s spread. Given that a vaccine for coronavirus is said to be at least 18 months away, the best chance people have of saving themselves from it is social distancing and following all the recommended health protocols.

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