After the lockdown

The Prime Minister wrote a letter to “his dear friends across the country” with images from his cycling trip to Phajoding yesterday on the second day of the lockdown relaxation.

The description of the fall, the imagery of children running in glee and the autumn sun brushing the faces – sums up the excitement, the happiness and the freedom after locking up at home for 21 days. The letter also reminded his “dear friends”, about the risk of the virus, and urged people to choose staying home even after the relaxation.

The dear friends got over excited. They were more convinced about the autumn sun and the cool evening breeze. The reply was there on the streets, the expressway and every open space. People came out in droves, some with mask and some without. Gathering is still disallowed, but the roads became a gathering place.

The request, it seems, fell on deaf ears. In some areas, people taking pictures of crowds were challenged, as they feared their image ending up in social media and getting labelled as violators of lockdown norms. The message was clear. People could come out, take a walk or cycle for the first three days. The reaction was not what authorities and the Lyonchhen expected.

We can understand the frustration of being locked up in a house for 21 days, but at the rate people responded to the relaxation and to the plea from the Prime minister, the first two days was a good lesson in planning a way forward. Lockdowns in the current pandemic is not a one-time measure. We have seen this. It will happen on and off.

In the same letter, Lyonchhen wrote about the risk of negligence and carelessness leading to a spike of positive cases, detected mostly in about 10-12 days of post lockdown. The second lockdown, many say, would be not far away, judging by how people responded to the relaxation.

The lockdown is eased not because we are free of Covid-19 or got it all under control. The uncertainties surrounding the virus means we are still at great risk. It is epidemiologically ascertained that it can come back. Many countries that declared Covid-19 free or boasted of having it under control are seeing a second wave. In some cases, it is worse than the first.

What we saw in the last two days are scary. Had there been even a single case, asymptomatic, the virus would have spread out of control. There were too many people out, with or without reasons. Many joined simply to enjoy the crowd!

The first lockdown, even with a lot of interventions, has been a bad experience for many whose livelihoods were badly affected. Many wish that this will be the first and the last. We can fulfil the wish if we are more cautious and heeding to the request and pleas of the government and health experts. Only we can prevent another lockdown.

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