In the present circumstances, no justifications can be given for imposing lockdown. Hospitals are not as overstressed as they were during the first wave of the pandemic and a considerable drop in mortality caused by the disease has also been noticed.
The astronomical pace at which the number of Coronavirus cases is rising across the country has increased the fears of another lockdown. Already some cities in some of the worst affected states are already under various kinds of lockdown. The pace at which the number of Coronavirus cases has risen is even more than that in the first wave of Coronavirus. On February 22, the country registered a total of 10000 cumulative new cases which increased to more than 80000 on Thursday signifying the increase of eight times in a matter of less than 40 days. In contrast, the country during the first wave of Coronavirus reached the 10000 daily Covid-19 cases mark on June 11 and it took about 83 days for the country to reach the 80000 mark on September 2, the Indian Express reported.
As the number of cases multiples day by day, the demand for a complete lockdown to bring the number of cases down is being made in states like Maharashtra which is the worst affected state in the country. Already, cities like Nagpur, Amravati, and Akola have imposed different kinds of restrictions similar to lockdown. However, experts have pointed out that the first lockdown imposed in the country was only meant for delaying the inevitable and cannot keep the virus in check on its own. In theory, the lockdown might restrain the movement of all people for some days and help stop the spread of the virus from infected people outside their immediate contacts. However , in reality, total lockdown is near impossible to achieve as apart from the frontline workers like health workers, police, and other people associated with essential services also can potentially become the carrier of the virus.
The cost borne by the country for the first phase of lockdown was immense as it rendered many unemployed and left millions of families in precarious situations. The government could justify the first phase of lockdown by saying that lots of lives were saved due to the lockdown and the health infrastructure also got breathing space to prepare for the worst.
However, in the present circumstances, no such justifications can be given for imposing lockdown. Hospitals are not as overstressed as they were during the first wave of the pandemic with a considerable drop in mortality caused by the disease. Also, as highlighted by health experts, the symptoms of the disease in the second wave are much milder compared to the first phase.
If not lockdown, what can bring cases down?
From the very beginning of the pandemic, scientists have laid stress on increasing Covid-19 testing, isolating the infected patients and tracing their immediate close contacts as the best solution to rein in the pandemic. The number of tests being conducted by authorities across the country is lower than the number of tests which were being undertaken in the month of October last year with a peak of as many a 14 lakhs tests per day. Instead of thinking about the lockdown, increasing the testing capacity to more than the previously attained capacity will yield much better results, according to experts.
With the cases of Coronavirus consistently coming down from October end till the month of January, a large section of the population got the feeling that the pandemic has died its natural death and started getting lax about following Coronavirus-related guidelines. Experts have emphasised that face masks and social distancing are the best precautionary steps that can lead to a decline in the number of Coronavirus cases. Imposing harsher penalties and enforcement of Covid19 related physical distancing guidelines by the authorities could lead to better outcomes, the Indian Express reported.