The new Covid-19 management strategy that the prime minister’s office announced Saturday has caused a stink among the people. What is evident is that the people are tired of lockdowns and frustrations showed through dismay and distrust.
What we seem to have abandoned in these difficult days is optimism guided by a clearer picture of a significant relaxation. The announcement charts a way forward with deliberate and measured opening.
“Having come so far, we recognise that we are at a pivotal juncture in our fight against the pandemic. The next phase of our Covid-19 management strategy is prompted by our own experience, as well as global developments in the understanding, science, and management of the pandemic,” reads the PMO announcement. “This is reinforced by preparations put in place”.
Because the guiding policy continues to be protecting the lives of our people, we cannot risk sudden or random easing of restrictions which could result in our health system being overwhelmed. Gradual and measured opening also gives us time to vaccinate a majority of our population. Lockdowns may be called for but only if the cases increased beyond hospitalisation and bed occupancy threshold.
The central idea of the new Covid-19 management strategy is to “prevent infections as much as possible without lockdowns, continue to provide vaccines to as large a percentage of the population as possible, and medical care to all positive cases.” For that, vaccination for children between the ages of 5 and 11 is underway, which will be followed by a second dose in the first week of April.
In fact, relaxation has begun already. Movement within zones is allowed without card timing. Most businesses have opened. Soon movement within mega-zones will open and taxis will be allowed to ferry people of same cohort. By April 4, identified government, corporate and private offices will have re-opened and mega-zone movement restrictions lifted.
It is for this significant change that we cannot afford to be reckless. The build-up to the total relaxation needs careful planning and systematic flow to avoid unnecessary hiccups. We will have served ourselves and our communities well if we adhere to the standing protocols and take advantage of the freedom that the new change is bringing slowly.
However, it will continue to be our responsibility to observe Covid-19 norms. We must wear our face masks, avoid crowding and wash our hands frequently.