Brief of situation at hand
To begin, let us pay attention to few crucial details.
As of Mar 24th, 2020, population of India is over 130 million.
Number of Corona cases found so far across India are 500
Less than 17000 Corona tests done so far
Corona (Covid-19) virus came to India from people who arrived in India from abroad.
The above numbers indicate that extremely small section of society is infected as of today.
Even if assumed that one thousand times more number of citizens have symptoms of infection, it makes around 0.3% of the population is infected across India.
As of now, this number is completely manageable if and only if the government and the administration acts with common sense and strong commitment to deal with the situation and serve the citizens.
A workable action plan to rein in the Corona Outbreak in most efficient and effective manner will require to be knitted around following points. Please note, All the points are mandatory.
- Restrict (not complete shutdown) inward movement of people from abroad to India. Mandatory quarantine of incoming passengers at government maintained facilities is essential (Thankfully this step is already done!)
- Create facilities for quarantine across the country in every district. To do so using existing resources, consider following
- Hotel industry is down. Government should book all the hotels and resorts at reasonable prices to convert them to quarantine facility
- Deploy reserve police or CAPF like CRPF, CISF, NDRF to secure perimeter of the facility to prevent people from breaking quarantine
- Team of healthcare personnel to monitor the condition of people under quarantine at the facility
- Establish test facility at radius of every 20 km or 10 km, depending on population density, in every city, town and village to test people with symptoms or people who came to India from abroad recently
- Encourage people who have returned from abroad recently and people with symptoms of Corona infection to report themselves
- Encouragement to be done by rewarding positive cases with a cash amount like INR 5000 per family or any other reasonable amount
- Build confidence in public by advertising that people will be provided with best in class facility for quarantine
- Allow people to contact near and dear ones on phone/internet, make them comfortable to encourage them to complete quarantine
- Treat the people in quarantine fairly, with respect and provide them enough facilities with cleanliness
- Designate one or more hospitals in every district to exclusively treat patients with Corona infection. It is important to do so to avoid other patients/doctors/healthcare workers from getting infected. People with advanced or severe cases to be hospitalized immediately in these hospitals
- Ensure proper supply of masks, medicines, ventilators to the designated hospitals
- Ensure doctors, healthcare workers, hospital staff and their families remain free from infection. Test them regularly. Give them much needed rest to regain immunity
- Induct volunteers at local level to deliver medicines and items of daily need to people to reduce movement of citizens in marketplaces without creating panic for shortage of supplies
- Limit, but not shut down, the movement. Ensuring supply of medicines and essential items require operation of production, packaging, transportation and distribution. Enforcing too much restrictions will ruin the situation. Reasonable restrictions to be applied.
- Allow production facilities, transportation and distribution agencies to work on alternate days. For example – One third of the transport companies to operate two days in a week, another set of one third transport companies to operate other two days and so on. Same to be applied on distribution agencies and shops
- Establish Online facility to allow people to request for movement in emergency cases. Charge fees to provide permit to prevent abuse of the facility. The fee collected can be used to meet expenses of maintaining the facility
- Biggest roadblock in containing the #CoronaOutbreak is to find out and quarantine infected people. Use of force, penal actions and warnings will only discourage people to reveal their situation. Even Bureaucrats and Police officers have been found hiding their own cases due to lack of encouragement. Rewarding and honoring people with symptoms will encourage them to voluntarily come forward and will give better results. Ensuring that they will be treated with respect and care is the need of the hour.
- Dealing with an epidemic means it costs money and resources. An action plan needs to give importance to get the results in optimized manner. Spending money on taking care of the people with symptoms/infection, that is around 0.3% of the population is far cheaper than imposing lock down and pay poor people, i.e. more than 40% of the population, money to survive.
- Hospitality industry is already out of business. If government books hotels and resorts to turn them into quarantine facilities, it is a win win deal for government, citizens and hospitality industry
- Lock-down means loss of business, collapse of economy and death of poor citizens due to starvation. The nation cannot afford loss of lives and economic recession. Therefore lock-down needs to be limited in terms of geographic area and period. The government must setup facilities to allow safe movement of public in a restricted manner.
- Some movement and activities need to be allowed in controlled manner to ensure supply of essential items is not broken. History of epidemic situation has shown that putting too much of restriction results in violent situations that require excessive use of force. Such situations are avoidable if the government sets up and monitors facilities for controlled movement to citizens. Colonial high handedness must be avoided at all costs.
Together we can defeat the outbreak of #CoronaVirus by implementing well thought and reasonable plans. Together we can make our surroundings healthy.
I appreciate you for reading. Please leave comments, suggestions, queries and criticism.