Authors: Dhruv Surana and Ravina Sharma*
Coronavirus (COVID-19) is stated to have started from the city of Wuhan, China. As we all know COVID-19 was declared to be a pandemic by the World Health Organisation on 12th March, 2020. The first case of the deadly virus was detected in Kerala, India on 30th January 2020 and since then the numbers have been increasing at a tremendous rate. The Government of India, on anticipating a steep rise in the number of the cases, declared a Lockdown in India in a phased manner bringing the country to an entire standstill with only essential items available for the public at large.
Thereafter on and from 4th May, 2020 the third phase of the lockdown was enforced by the Government of India but with certain relaxations depending upon the zones (Red, Orange and Green) categorized by the Government itself. The positives of the said relaxation were only opening up of private offices with 33% staff to re-start the economy but all other relaxations are creating a situation in which the worse times are yet to be seen.
Two main relaxations given by the Government which in our opinion will result in the elephantine increase in the number of cases are opening of liquor shops and migration of the stranded labour from one state to another. Though both could have been positive if effective steps were taken by the respective State Governments but no such step was taken. On the 4th of May, 2020 itself the long ques outside the liquor shops, violating social distancing, were seen and that would result in the increase of the number of cases. The Government of India has all along asked the public to follow social distancing but the people flouted the same was were standing at not even a feet’s distance from each other. This contagious decease is set to spread with flouting of social distancing. The State Governments have increased the value of liquor by adding cess and other taxes only for the purpose to increase their revenue but are not willing to shut the liquor stores. If increase in Revenue by selling liquor is the only source of income for the State Government, the States should not have closed the liquor shops and would have continued its sale by maintaining social distancing. The Government should have started online delivery of the liquor instead of selling them in the standalone shops. Further, public had been waiting in the ques outside the liquor shops since morning but the Police authorities failed to take any steps to curtail such ques being formed violating the physical distancing. This will only lead to an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in India.
Another blunder made by the Governments was to allow migration of stranded labour from one state to another. The State Governments should have planned a much better and systematic manner for migration of the people in case they were so keen to do so. People have been seen flouting the compulsory quarantine on being migrated. The authorities failed to properly test persons before migrating them. A proper COVID-19 test should have been conducted for all persons wanting to be migrated before migrating them on buses and trains where it is humanly impossible to maintain social distancing. The labour class are the uneducated class and are not much aware about the kind of pandemic COVID-19 is and hence it is not possible to expect from them that they will be maintaining social distancing at all. There have been cases in Orissa where on migration the migrants have run away from the quarantine centres. This only shows the lacuna in the administration of the Government. Migrants sent back to Punjab from Maharashtra have been tested positive on arrival. There are many cases which have been reported where migrants have been tested positive. The State Governments are not conducting proper tests before such migration. In the recent times various persons have been tested positive who are asymptomatic but the State Governments have not yet learnt the lesson and are playing with the lives of the poor migrants. The instant surge in the number of cases where the daily toll was above 3000 cases is not leading to flattening of the curve but only an increase in the curve. The entire purpose of the lockdown will be rendered futile and the country will not be able to win over this pandemic.
Though small in size but having maximum international exposure, Thailand, which was the first country to report COVID-19 outside China on 13th January, 2020 has on date almost won the battle against COVID-19 as the cases being reported per day is only two or three. The citizens of Thailand are maintaining social distancing and hence public transport has re-opened and soon people will be living a normal life free of COVID-19. But unfortunately in India, people are wilfully and happily flouting social distancing and despite the Government’s direction mandating wearing of masks, people are being seen roaming around without wearing the masks. The reluctance of the public at large will act has a hindrance to overcome COVID-19.
It is time when strict measures are taken by the Government to ensure that public maintain social distancing and take steps to ensure that the virus does not spread. With the cases increasing each day, the curve is far from being flattened. The fight against the virus, the lockdown and all efforts taken by the corona warriors will be rendered fruitless and there will be a surge in the number of the cases. Though India was successful in curbing the increase in the cases at the beginning unlike other developed nations but steps like opening the liquor stores for earning revenue will only increase the number of cases.
India is currently facing the first wave of COVID- 19 and if steps are not taken by the Government of India to curb the spread of COVID-19 at the earliest, India will soon witness the second wave of COVID-19 which is basically the disastrous situation the developed nations are undergoing at present. Corona Virus 2.0 will be worse and our country will find it difficult to face such a situation.
We wish the State Governments in consultation with the Central Government act instantly with such steps that would flatten the curve and take steps without keeping in mind their vote banks. We wish for a COVID-19 free India at the earliest. Stay Home – Stay Safe. Jai Hind.
*Ravina Sharma- Advocate Practicing before the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi and Supreme Court of India and Research Scholar at Ansal University, Gurugram.