Goa is getting infected, and infected fast! Such has been the rapidity of the rate of infection that the number of active COVID cases in the state is recording a new high with every passing day.
It is no secret that the pandemic has sufficiently weakened Goa’s highly vaunted public healthcare system, and with reports of health workers and other COVID warriors themselves falling prey to the contagion, an air of unease and alarm prevails over the entire state.
In apprehensive or fearful moods, everything takes on a threatening, unsafe and ominous aspect. The CM too has been an epitome of confusion and uncertainty during these times of the pandemic! Initially he empowers panchayats to take independent decisions on lockdown depending on the prevailing situation vis-à-vis the virus threat in the villages, but makes an immediate U-turn the moment he realizes his folly. Some of the local-bodies however justify their ‘unlawful’ decision to impose lockdown in their territories as being the need of hour with the areas under their jurisdiction showing a steep rise in infections.
It is however not the matter of these lockdowns being mandatory or voluntary for the villagers! What has been rankling is the fact that understanding the severity of the pandemic, when the Centre had imposed quite a few harsh restrictions on the populace to contain the spread of the virus when the nationwide lockdown was in effect, very few amongst us were admitting the prudence in these decisions.
The Modi-government had come in for severe criticism for taking such a unilateral decision that was jeopardizing our economy and livelihoods. And now when the ‘virulent dangers’ have commenced surfacing in our close vicinity, we are falling back on to the same tactics to safeguard ourselves against the risk of contracting the disease! If only the restless public has paid more heed to the standing instructions issued by the administration from time to time, we would have been in a much better situation.
But alas, no matter how tough the times are; the argument that since man is a social animal, social distancing is the worst disaster that could befall him cannot be discounted. This misconception has however cost us Goans dear! The public should be warned against its dismissive approach towards the spread of the disease!
After the initial reluctance shown for social gatherings during the lockdown, wedding ceremonies and birthday parties are once again in vogue. Quite in contravention to the restrictions imposed, it is not unusual to have large congregations gracing the occasion! It is all the more annoying to have such functions being hosted in residential colonies.
It is as if the fear of community infection has not been given a thought to by the hosts. For them the joy of holding the ceremony surmounts all other considerations. But while ‘boycotting’ such functions would have been the apt response, the invitees who throng the ‘venue’ are apparently in a mood to enjoy and invariably throw caution to the winds while attending the parties!
It is at such times that one decries the folly of allowing the public the freedom by the authorities to take their own decisions when it comes to organizing such functions and get-togethers. Festivals no doubt foster the spirit of togetherness and the love they have for their heritage and social obligations will only encourage communities to celebrate them in any little way they can to keep alive the customs and traditions.
With the sudden spate in the virus infections, more and more panchayats have decided to enforce voluntary lockdowns in their areas for specific periods. But a disturbing trend seems to be manifesting in the form of temporary ‘relocation’ of residents from these villages to other localities elsewhere in the state which continue to be tagged safe. This brief ‘migration’ could well be born out of fear of contracting the disease - a prophylactic step, so to speak.
But how considerate have these temporarily drifting families been to the safety of people in those areas where they shift to! Nowadays most of the urban habitats have people driving down from villages bag and baggage to spend some ‘safe’ days in the presumably infection-free zones. This tendency needs to be discouraged immediately with a sincere advise that staying within the confines of their own houses is the best possible way to ward off the dangers of contamination – for themselves and others as well!
Fear and unawareness about Coronavirus can no more be proffered as excuses for the confusion that prevails. Quite unlike the ancient times where man’s nomadic quests never allowed him to settle down at one place, his ‘forays’ into ‘safe’ territories to counter the threats of the pandemic in current times is highly deplorable - simply for the reason that the more he moves from one affected area to another, he is endangering others. Of course life must go on! Apprehending a sudden spike in infections, shutting down the region now-and-then is not a solution. Moreover, other than being a spontaneous response to a calamitous situation, what does a lockdown of a week achieve!
Where simple sanitation tips and the highly-hyped social distancing mantra would have had a tremendous impact on the fight against the coronavirus spread, were the members of the public to follow it; a complete disregard for the dos-and-don’ts and a distinct dislike for physical distancing is wreaking havoc on the state.(Published on 06th July 2020, Volume XXXII, Issue 28)