Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Pandemic facts and emotions

Everyone is trying to distract themselves. So I didn't want to do a post on this. But then the dominating theme has been -- for now almost one and a half years -- what else!

There have been numerous calls and messages asking us how we are doing. So far so good. Thanks. 

Well, as you might know, things aren't looking good in India. 

Here are some figures drawn from Worldometer, an independent research group based in the US. Figures are as of 1310 IST today.

India reported the maximum number of new cases in the world yesterday -- 355,828; followed by the US -- 39,767; Brazil -- 36,524; Turkey -- 24,73 and Iran -- 20,732. India is way ahead, and that says it all, why we are currently in the spotlight.

As of yesterday, the US had the most number of active cases at 6.7 million and India was the next with 3.4 million. Brazil, France and Iran followed. 

The fact that India is the second-most populous nation in the world with 1.39 billion people, after China with 1.43 billion, and ahead of the US with 332 thousand, gives a different perspective to the numbers.

In India, there are 14,573 people in one million who are infected in comparison to the global figure of 19,779. Slovenia has 116,336, the US 99,903, Sweden 95,903, and France 86,490.

WHY INDIA IS IN THIS STATE NOW

Before that, we must remember that every nation has suffered in the same way sometime over the past one and a half years. The only difference is the way governments have reacted at various stages.

Every nation has also gone through subsequent phases of the infection after its first encounter.

India registered its first case on Jan 29 last year. Daily fresh cases touched a peak of 97,570 on September 12, and it dipped to its lowest of 9,110 on February 9. (Source NDTV)

Like everywhere else in the world, here too people were waiting to clutch that thin straw of hope. And when it came within their reach, they did; in fact, they rushed into it, with a huge sigh of relief.

People rushed out to resume their "old normal" lives. Politicians declared victory. Everyone thought the worst was over and looked forward to the massive rollout of vaccination.

Except for one group of people. That was the scientists, doctors, epidemiologists, virologists etc. They warned of a possible second wave. They pointed to the variants that had surfaced in the UK, South Africa, Brazil etc., in addition to mutations happening within the country itself. 

They warned the people, and the state and central governments not to let the guard down. 

But to no avail.

People, with and without masks, began crowding public places. Cinemas allowed full occupancy. Buses and most of the train services resumed.

Campaigning for State assembly elections in five states and one Union territory went on as if nothing had happened in the world.

So we are back to square one, in a really bad state, battered and bruised.

STRANGE GOVERNMENT LETHARGY

We all knew India's medical/infrastructure won't be able to cope if there is a massive explosion of cases. That precisely was the reason why the Prime Minister ordered a national lockdown last year. 

National lockdown did hurt the economy and people's lives. So that's next to the last option now.

But there were many alternatives -- like local/ district/ regional lockdowns depending on the number of cases. 

And, everyone missed the point about the supply chain of medical oxygen to hospitals. That's at the crux of the oxygen crisis, mainly in Delhi, but in other states as well.

But for some strange reason, the sense of seriousness or urgency, which was evident last year, is sadly this year.

EMOTIONAL DRAIN

Most of the families in India are grieving because someone they know -- a blood relation, a friend or an acquaintance -- has left too soon or is in a hospital.

Last year, when there was a national lockdown, without any warning, the abiding images were of migrant workers left in the lurch, of them walking all the way to their homes.

This year, when there is no lockdown, the abiding images are of long queues of ambulances and mass cremations and burials.

There have been criticisms of the media showing these images. But then that's the reality.

All the news media are full of distressing information. Most people are not following the blow-by-blow account of the deteriorating situation. 

Bengaluru, where I am, is in the midst of a two-week lockdown. The situation is bad but the medical infrastructure is holding up somehow. The lockdown will end on May 12, if there is an improvement in the situation.

I hope we have learned lessons from the mistakes, and the government and the people will not let their guard down, at the slightest sign of improvement in the situation.

37 comments:

  1. Hari OM
    Pradeep, it is immensely distressing - and I have to say that two weeks of lockdown is unlikely to make a significant difference; we had two months, but it was really only when the vacc program got properly going that things started to change for the better. Now we are facing even being able to hug and stay over with friends and family again. ... but a part of me is hesitant, given that the rest of the world, not just India, is still facing such hazard.

    I am relieved that you are safe and pray that it remains so. It's all just so... apocalyptic. YAM xx

    (My AZ Reflection Post.

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    1. Hi Yamini - The restrictions should never have been totally lifted, before the threat had vanished. You are right, two weeks won't achieve much. At the most, the numbers might come down a bit. Thank you for your good wishes. :-)

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  2. In France we are just going out for our third lockdown. The virus is still there, but not as badly as in India. Stay safe and healthy please.

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    1. Yes, I was reading about the situation in France. Thank you for the good wishes. :-)

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  3. Some of the governments have been so incompetent, which isn't helped by people straight up refusing to follow guidelines. I hope the lockdown is able to be lifted soon.

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  4. I think the Indian Government should take charge and order a national lockdown and deploy the army to administer that. The problem in India is mainly due to mismanagement by the Government. No need to have Kumbh Mela. No urgency to conduct election in many states.

    I have a question. In some states they have the lockdown from 10 pm to 6 am. At night time there are less number of people in the streets. Therefore, why lockdown at night? Lockdown should be in the day time where many people crowd the streets.

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    1. I agree with you entirely. Rajan. Last year, Kerala had deployed paramilitary forces to enforce lockdown.
       
      The response of people around the world has been largely the same. They don't want to be locked up at home. But governments -- ruled by all parties -- could have been responsible (we elected them with that objective), which they haven't been. 

      I simply have no clue why they horribly messed it up this year, when Modi a remarkably good job last year.

      Yes, I also don't understand the logic behind this 10 pm to 6 am curfew. Totally illogical. Yes, lockdown should be in the day hours. 

      Not just Kumbh Mela, all religious congregations should be banned for the next two years. And religious places should be shut for devotees. Let the priests alone do the rituals. They can allow for online darshan and other religious rituals.

      Elections are a constitutional mandate. But rallies could have been banned, and we could have had campaigns (in the form of speeches) on TV and social media.

      If we were a bit adventurous, we could even have had remote voting. I am sure we have the technological wherewithal for that. Those who aren't comfortable with online could have gone to the booths.

      So many things could have been done.

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  5. We've all bungled it in one way or another. Stay closed, and people can't work. Stay open, and the virus moves unchecked. Sending you healing vibes in hopes that things get contained soon.

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    1. You said it, Liz. Thanks for your good wishes.

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  6. Thank you, Pradeep, for this tone of sober clarity. It looks to me as if the government needs to galvanize into action the way every family with a loved one struggle to breathe is having to do, on their own. And as things get better, which I desperately hope and pray that they do, and soon, I hope that people will remember. None of us is safe until all of us are. Please take care of yourself and your family.

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    1. Hi Josna - Thank you. Indeed, all of us are vulnerable. And we all need to do whatever it takes to ensure that risks are minimized, so that we don't burden the medical infrastructure.

      Like I said, for some strange reason, all the governments -- irrespective of the parties in power -- have been found wanting.

      The grapevine is that they are under intense pressure from the business lobby, not to put restrictions on movement of people.

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  7. Things are bleak currently. But, I hope, with the experience we gained last year and with the vaccines being available, we would be able to manage things better from this point onward.

    Destination Infinity

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    1. Hi Rajesh - Thank you. We have to stay positive and do everything to ride this out.

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  8. Excellent report. We have miles to go and all round cooperation from all stakeholders for an equitable and transparent action is a must for overcoming the crisis.

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    1. Hi KP - Thank you. Yes, like someone said, it's our national responsibility to try not to fall ill.

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  9. It is grim. Prayers and hope are the only options.
    Stay safe Pradeep and keep posting. At least, this way, we get to read un-biased, factual pieces which are not peppered with rhetoric.
    Thank you for writing this post.

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    1. Hi Arti - Thank you. I am sure we will get over this soon.

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  10. Hi Pradeep - we have lots of connections with India and the updates here are often, and documented for us - we can see how 'awful' it must be. I'm glad you're safe ...
    Yesterday I heard an excellent resume of the state India finds itself in ... by Sir Anish Kapoor - it was on the Beeb tv ... I can't see it ...but if I come across it I'll let you know. It was only a comment - but boy was it succinct and to point.

    Good to hear from you ... and stay safe - Hilary

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  11. The way the election campaigns and Kumbh mela were conducted shows the government's utter lack of vision.

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    1. Hi Tomi - No doubt. Govt totally messes this up.

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  12. Pradeep, I'm sorry you were not able to take part in the AtoZ Reflections, however, I see you do have a lot going on in India. It's a shame our world is falling apart like it is. Keep posting, keep sharing what is happening there. Will pray for you and your country. Stay safe, stay happy and smile.
    Have a great day!
    Cheers,
    Crackerberries

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    1. Hi Crackerberries - It would have been a lot better if everyone came together. Because this is not about any country or ideology or anything else. It's about human life.
      Thank you for your good wishes,
      Take care.

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  13. Thank you for visiting Katie Isabella this day Pradeep. My human blog is https://ramblingon-ramblingon.blogspot.com so that at least there won't be a steady diet of Katie Isabella's antics.
    I have been keeping up with India's terrible struggle with the virus. There has been the fear among many of us who are more forward thinking, that getting the vaccination(s) would make people too secure in their thinking regarding health precautions for a period of time after vaccination. It is a terrible situation not likely to be conquered anytime soon. Stay well, my friend.

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    1. Hi Katie - Thank you for good wishes. We are doing okay, as of now. Thankfully, the cases aren't high in our part of the town.
      Thanks for pointing to the 'human blog'. Shall check it out. But I love cats. So, I think the 'cat blog' too will interest me.
      Everywhere -- after being cooped up in indoors for long -- we were all too eager to rush out. And the complacency has got the better of us.
      Take care.

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  14. I'm very sorry about the situation. Be well and stay sane.

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    1. Hi Darla - Thank you. We are doing fine. And the number of cases aren't that high, in our part of the town.

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  15. The public and the government are to blame. So are the bureaucrats and media houses. Last year there was mayhem about the lockdown. This year, he left it to the states to control and almost everyone messed up.
    People too! So many of them told me corona is gone and we don't need to wear masks anymore. Ugh!

    I tried to stop making sense of night curfews long ago. Could never understand the reason.

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    1. Hi Srivalli - We all got it wrong, more so all the governments. Because they had other priorities in mind. Sadly. I am sure we will come out of this.

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  16. If only we had listened to the scientists, doctors, epidemiologists, virologists .......

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    1. Thanks for your comments.You are spot on. Science took a back seat this year!

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  17. I’m so sorry, Pradeep. It’s an awful situation to be in. We too see horrific stories of people being turned away from hospitals and the results of the lack of oxygen are tragic. It’s a terrible dilemma as Liz A says. We are thinking of you. Things are not good here either but the scale is much smaller. This is a tiny country, after all.

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    1. Hi Vallypee - Thank you for your good wishes. Yes, India is huge in area as well population. Also, there are many economic issues that complicate matters.

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  18. I'm watching what's happening in India, as well as here in Vietnam. Vietnam does well with regional lockdowns. In fact, a few days ago a new case (and 2 connected cases) emerged in a neighboring city and the contact-tracing information is all public so people can avoid those places. We are not in a full lockdown yet, but schools are closed and most restaurants will only do delivery for now, until we see what happens next. I expect lockdown soon.

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    1. Hi Red - One big India problem faces is the sheer size of the country and the number of people. Secondly, we are yet to recover from the blow to the economy from the harsh lockdown of last year. Lockdown might look strict, but that's the only way to keep people apart.

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  19. At many levels, we've just done this to ourselves, haven't we? Somehow people were just not able to restrain themselves. Imagine my shock when my neighbours, retired army doctors, had get-togethers, prayer meetings, kitty parties. They invited us, but we said we were social distancing. I went so far as to put up a post for Christmas, telling people that we weren't entertaining visitors. I guess people thought we were crazy, but we decided we'd rather be considered crazy than be dead!

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    1. Hi Corinne - I have been hearing similar anecdotes of people gathering at homes for parties, and weddings. I think you did the right thing by telling your friends that you aren't entertaining guests.

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