Editorial

People are dying in Covid19 pandemic, Governments were busy in electioneering, inaction continued for year

The pain and suffering of the relatives of the patients who are admitted ; let them hear their desperate pleas for medicines and oxygen and ventilators and ICU beds; the cries of the kith and kin of doctors and nurses who are being eaten by the pandemic.

Despite, Indian Medical Association ( IMA) rightly sent a letter to the Union health ministry to ‘wake up’, later did not act.

The IMA — a pan-India voluntary organisation with a membership of 350,000 doctors — has lost 126 doctors to the second wave and 736 doctors to the first wave.

Pregnant women are dying, young children are dying, doctors are dying, nurses are dying; the elderly are dying, even after first part of pandamic governments did not take steps to arrest spread in 2nd Phase which has taken thousands of Indian leaves.

There was alarming neceesity for the implementation of a complete, nationwide lockdown for 15 days. But the Union government doesn’t seem to be in favour of this suggestion of IMA and news papers. There was also need for free vaccination for all Indians irrespective of their age brackets.

All the poor people in the 18-44 age groups may not have enough money to spend on the vaccines and they might opt out of getting vaccine shots, thereby putting them at risk of infections. By extension, they can then expose more people to the risk of infection.

The Union government announced that all those between 18-44 will get vaccines after May 1, but now the situation is that vaccine doses are not available. There are long lines of those wanting to register on the Cowin app, but are unable to do so for whatever reasons.

You may have your reasons, but once Governments make an announcement it is their job to make the vaccines available. Instead of reasons, they are bound to have mode of solutions on war footings.

There are lots of options with the Governments that Governments can use, without facing difficulties,, but when the prime minister has made an announcement, then the administration should work doubly hard to make it happen. While the Governments could not hire required manpower to cope up and save humen lives, is yet another problem.

Instead they postponed the NEET PG exam and now there is chaos. Even after one week nowhere are junior doctors joining the fight against COVID-19.

There are 178,000 such doctors. Well-trained doctors waiting to join the fight against the pandemic, but for some reason the National Board of Examinations are not conducting the exam; they will postpone the exams to protect these test-takers from Covid.

This is not like postponing the exam for Class 10 or Class 12. That is not going to have any impact. By not conducting the exam you are denying these doctors, these frontline healthcare workers, from joining the fight against the pandemic.

The Government of India is listening to the people who are conducting these exams the National Board of Examinations, and other bureaucrats, but you are not listening to the people who are facing an acute shortage of manpower on the field to fight the pandemic.

The complete lockdown was an immediate solution, to break the spread of COVID-19. The chain can be broken once we deploy measures to prevent its spread from one person to another. One infected person can easily pass on the infection to 50 other people.

Besides, we are not having adequate testing facilities. There are lots of infected people who are roaming around with symptoms like mild fever, running nose, and cough without even knowing that they are positive. But for the next 14 days they will remain positive and as they come in contact with more people around them they silently keep spreading the virus exponentially. If you don’t go for a lockdown, infections will continue to spread unchecked.

When you go for a lockdown, which may not have an immediate effect in bringing down the number of cases, but given the maximum incubation period of the virus is 14 days, and once these positive people stop roaming around and spreading virus due to the lockdown, the onset of the third wave will be delayed to a great extent, in terms of numbers and time.

Going for things like ‘micro containment zones’, ‘focused lockdowns’, is not going to stop the spread of COVID-19. It will spread like wildfire. In these circumstances, India does not have adequate manpower to handle the same pandemic when it swells during the third phase.

When you have a centralised lockdown, it may lead to financial worries, but then plan the lockdown to the last detail and do it in a time-bound manner. Give people time to prepare for it. Give them money to cope with the lockdown.

People need to be convinced that the nationwide lockdown will be to their benefit. The economic hardships of not going for a lockdown now will be far greater than going for a lockdown and giving the people enough money to survive during this lockdown.

Definitely, look at the states where lockdowns were strictly implemented and compare their situation with states that went for anything less than complete lockdown. There were decrease in the number of cases and positivity rates in the former case, but in states like Tamil Nadu where there was no lockdown the cases are increasing rapidly now. They have announced a lockdown from May 10, but this will take the next 14 days for the number of cases to come down. Health gone down next to hustings, what a carelessness.

Hospitals are now full with patients. There is not enough manpower to deal with the deluge of cases, not enough medicines, ICU beds, ventilators, oxygen cylinders, etc. Suppose if the country is at war, then everybody has to get used to restrictions. Today, India is at war with COVID-19; it is a far bigger and powerful enemy than any we have around us; without restrictions on the movement of people, winning against this enemy will bring in enormous economic, mental and health costs.

Now, when Tamil Nadu is under lockdown, and if Andhra (Pradesh) is not under lockdown (for instance), then the people living along the borders of these two states will continue to intermingle and move around. Localised lockdowns will prove highly ineffective; we need a uniform, nationwide, lockdown.

Tamil Nadu had fewer cases two-three weeks ago, but today the number of cases has jumped to more than 27,000-28,000 every day.

When you are anticipating such scenarios, then it is imperative you take a decision, while the Union government dithering on announcing a complete lockdown.

The Govt is worried about the economic fallout of such a decision. Even otherwise, the economy is going through a downturn; from the last one year people are suffering economic hardships. But look at this dilemma this way: when one patient gets infected, She or he spends so much money on medicines, hospitalisation, ICU beds, et.

People as young as 30-35 years are getting paralysed, dying because of the Covid infection. This one person then spreads the infection to 50 more and then you repeat the cycle of hospital spending, running desperately for oxygen and other life-saving drugs and then you have 50 more people spending the same amount of money as did the first one.

You cannot compare the deaths of people to people losing their jobs and their earning capacity. While both need to be controlled and taken seriously, the need of the hour is a complete, national lockdown. The government, however, always cites economic hardships for the people belonging to the lower economic strata for not imposing a national lockdown like the last year. While the people are dying just like that. The Governments became helpless in arresting deaths.

Just ten minutes ago I saw a patient with 95 saturation oxygen level and when I came back after calling on another patient the first person was no more. That’s the situation on the ground in less than a dozwn minutes.

Pregnant women are dying, young children are dying, doctors are dying, nurses are dying; the elderly are dying. IMA too has lost hundreds of doctors to the second wave.

It is necessary that somebody, some VIP, some minister should come to the ward and see how people are suffering. They should not go to only Apollo Hospital or AIIMS. Come to see the situation on the ground in local, regular and Government hospitals.

Let them come and see the difficulties the entire ecosystem of healthcare workers are going through. The pain and suffering of the relatives of the patients who are admitted; let them come here and hear their desperate pleas for medicines and oxygen and ventilators and ICU beds; the cries of the kith and kin of doctors and nurses who are being eaten by the pandemic. It does not appear as a welfare state.

Average five-six ambulances will always be in waiting outside such hospitals because there is not enough oxygen or ICU beds available as these hospitals are filled to overcapacity.

When there is no oxygen available in government hospitals, people rush to private hospitals. But the situation is no different there. Where to go, how to manage such deluge of patients is the question facing everybody. No help desk.

India in a very difficult situation; this is not the time to talk politics; not the time to point out who is at fault. Not to say that the PM is at fault, or the health minister is at fault.

The people should demonstrate as if in the war situation. The bureaucrats are responsible for all this mess; the shortage of life-saving equipment and medicines to fight COVID-19. The people are dying. the Government machinery full of bureaucrats are helpless.

‘The pain and suffering of the relatives of the patients who are admitted; let them hear their desperate pleas for medicines and oxygen and ventilators and ICU beds; the cries of the kith and kin of doctors and nurses who are being eaten by the pandemic.’