An anomalous upheaval set off by Covid-19 in the social and economic lives of the people brought the whole world to a standstill with the end of this suffering unknown. In developing countries like India, with a population of more than 135 crores, the outcomes of this spread are still unknown – will the virus stop from spreading, will it ever be under control or the new normal will become the new living lifestyle?
Answering these questions has a certain amount of uncertainty difficult to be determined with the rising cases each day. India has been one of the most affected countries due to this outbreak, the most affected places being the dense metropolitan cities. Cities like Delhi and Mumbai have multiple reasons for the spike in cases like density, control, and augmentation.
There were varied responses in each city to this pandemic, good and bad both, which I put forth in this article. The cases in Delhi alone rose by almost 50,000 in a month’s time post lockdown. Preventive measures of wearing a mask and keeping distance socially were although implemented but did not prove enough for the capital of the country with such a high density of population.
As things seem to get out of control, door to door screening of all almost 30 million residents of Delhi and random sampling of people is a measure taken by the government to get things in control. Using technology to keep a check on people following the regulations is also being implemented. Drones, cameras and not to forget, the police will make sure every corner of the city is covered and all the rules and regulations are followed properly.
The multi decision-making authorities in the capital created all the more chaos rather than simplifying the decision-making process. Conflicting orders, issues, and retractions, everything delayed the screening process and hence the casualties. Not only this but the reluctance in people to get them tested and the fear of being quarantined has proven to be a larger problem than the public health issue itself.
India is tackling a twofold pandemic – swinging between economy revivals and battling the disease. It is important to outdo the number of new cases with the number of recoveries to bring down the rising curve of cases. As the restrictions are eased out, the risk of community transmission increases manifold. The most vulnerable being the metropolitan cities where migrants come in huge uncountable numbers. The reverse migration from cities to villages was also one factor that worsened the condition.
As the virus hit the narrow streets of Dharavi, Mumbai, for once it was assumed to be impossible to contain the virus. But strategical planning and strict implementation worked wonders to contain the virus and flatten the curve quite sprightly. As one of the officials said, they chased down the virus through their four T’s – Tracing, Tracking, Testing, and Treating instead of waiting for the disaster to happen!
Containing the virus in a slum has 100 more challenges than containing it in a town. For example, congested living areas with 8-10 people living in one small house on a single floor, narrow streets, and less sanitary facilities were some of the challenges but the quick wit of officials and proactive screening with the help of doctors and volunteers made it possible to bring down the positive numbers, marking the remarkable feat.
Strict containment zone measures were taken while volunteers made sure no one slept hungry by distributing ration kits and necessary commodities. Even while cases in Dharavi were contained but the spread of the virus in the whole city is under the virus trap.
The exponential rise in cases in a very short period was too overwhelming for the already developing healthcare infrastructure of the country which led to mismanagement and outburst of cases even more. A campaign ‘Chase the Virus’ has been introduced in Mumbai to flatten the curve by strictly quarantining 15 close contacts of all Corona positive people.
The Ahmedabad, Gujarat model of combating the Covid-19 has been suggested by the WHO to be considered as a case study for other regions in the country. There has been active volunteer participation and collaboration with private hospitals which helped to ease the situation of the virus. Helplines set up like 104 Fever Helpline or the ‘Dhanvantari Rath’ or even the Sanjivni Van are some initiatives that seemed to have worked for the state.
No matter how many initiatives the government takes or does the efforts, in the end it is the population of the country whose coordination is the most needed at every step. We all are together in this pandemic. The fault of one person can ruin the efforts doctors are taking each day stepping up on the front line, putting their lives in danger. Following the social distancing norms and wearing a mask is all that it takes to combat the virus. It is this new normal we need to follow and make it a part of our life.