Time to be serious

The World Health Organisation has acknowledged that the new coronavirus could be airborne or that it can be spread by tiny particles suspended in the air.

This changes the game altogether. It means the risk of getting the virus is higher and therefore, relevant measures are needed. It is time we give a second thought.

While the technical details are too sophisticated for the average person to decipher, it is wiser to resort to preventive measures. Wearing face masks is one. The other is avoiding crowded, closed or poorly ventilated settings or avoiding places where people are reluctant to wear masks.

There are reports of a second wave of the virus causing havoc in countries that were once convinced they managed to control it. In neighbouring India, there is no respite as new records (new cases) are set almost every day. West Bengal has resorted to another complete lock down from today. While we may take comfort in not having a community transmission, the warning is that it is not if, but when.

The new findings come at a time when we are relaxing a lot of rules imposed to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Schools for class X and XII have reopened, business timings are extended from 7pm to 9pm and sports are allowed. While it is advised to still follow precautionary measures, complacency has set in.

The city’s busy street, Norzin Lam, is as busy as before we reported the first case, traffic congestion has returned and wash stations set up in offices and public spaces are running out of water and soap. Hand sanitisers, once placed at all public places are now just empty bottles hanging by a thread. With the positive cases contained between the walls of luxury hotels, not many even talk about coronavirus now. This complacency will cost us dear.

We need to be more concerned with the WHO’s assessment pointing out our borders as risky areas. While the government has put in a lot of measures including patrolling the porous border day and night, there are no better measures suggested than following basic hygiene, maintaining distance and wearing face masks in public places. Experts after learning that the Covid-19 virus could be airborne still stress on the importance of physical distancing. The closer you are to an infected person, the more aerosols and droplets you may be exposed to. Washing hands often still remains a good idea.

Upper grades in schools are seen as cause of concern. School authorities should be more serious than ever on preventive measures. The health and education ministries should mentor and monitor rigorously as we know how good we are when it comes to implementation of rules or regulations. A school, it was learnt, didn’t have thermometers to check temperatures of students on the opening day.

We don’t have to wait for a single case of community transmission to make people rethink. The measures recommended are simple and cheap. It is better to wear a face mask, stay away from crowded places rather than getting isolated on a ventilator in a hospital ward.

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