Timely call - GulfToday

Timely call


Narendra Modi. File

India’s announcement of the Covid Task Force may have come a little late in the day, but PM Narendra Modi’s call to observe a one-day curfew on Sunday is a timely move. The outbreak has challenged us to demonstrate civic and moral responsibility something that Indians pay scant respect to. But it’s time to get some hygiene in our daily life and adhere to social distancing, if we are to prevent millions from succumbing to the deadly virus (“Modi appeals for total shutdown of India on Sunday over coronavirus,” Mar.19, Gulf Today).

India did get up a tad bit late, but nonetheless I hope Modi’s appeal to stay put at home to combat the coronavirus epidemic gets a healthy response. It is only in observing such measures will we be able to stop the spread of the virus, not among the thousands but the 1.3 billion and more that populate the nation.

I pray that the measure is a success, because we are lacking on most other fronts. Our testing machinery is inadequate and coupled with our poor health infrastructure, is a recipe for disaster. I remember reading a bulletin recently wherein the Indian Council of Medical Research warned that unless India undertakes wider testing, it would be difficult to control the Stage-III or community transmission stage of the virus.

India has made attempts to rope in private testing labs but it is still way below the required norm. South Korea is one classic example of how rigorous testing curbed the spread. It conducted almost 10,000 tests daily and brought the outbreak under control without even locking down cities, schools or restaurants.

Of course we cannot expect this to happen in India, so the only feasible alternative is social distancing. While the PM said that there was no need for panic buying he fell short in offering any incentives to either the industry or the working class. Leave that aside and let’s do our bit not only on Sunday but until the virus leaves India.

Rina Salzira — By email

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