Unite Against Coronavirus
Amid fears of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, which has infected more than two lakh people across the world, killing more than 9000 people, and more cases surging quickly in India too with the total number of positive cases crossing 170 including four deaths as on March 19, it is necessary to learn a lesson or two from the Indian state of Kerala in-order to contain the spread of the virus. The South Indian state was taken unawares in 2018 after 18 cases of the deadly Nipah virus were reported, out of which 17 patients succumbed to the virus. However, it managed to control its spread within a few weeks. The highly infectious disease returned to the state in 2019 but it was nipped in the bud, making it Nipah virus-free without a single death, just a few days after the positive case was reported. It speaks volumes about the state’s well-prepared health system, the ability of healthcare workers, lawmakers, bureaucrats and citizens to quickly respond to such emergencies without panicking. The state’s history of efficiently dealing with infectious virus, has once again set a wonderful example for the world by limiting the outbreak of the coronavirus after the first three cases in India were reported from the state. It earned praise from several quarters, including the BBC panel. The state has sent a clear message to the world that preparedness, well-developed primary healthcare centres, collective effort of citizens, awareness and quick response are key to combating any crisis, be it diseases or natural calamities. The way the state government has been fighting the spread of the virus by using technology and social media is also remarkable. It has launched a new app called GoK – Kerala Direct, which can be downloaded on the Google Play Store, to disseminate authentic updates and instructions about the coronavirus to its citizens. Information like quarantine, guidelines for travellers, safety tips, tests, surveillance data, hospitalisations, etc. is disseminated to citizens on time, thus helping keep panic, rumours and fake news at bay and simultaneously gaining the confidence of the people. The state is also placing people on quarantine for 28 days as a precautionary measure, instead of 14 days suggested by the Centre.
The virus has no face or race and can affect anyone, anywhere, anytime. With the world becoming more connected because of international trade, increase in population and inter-dependency, what happens in one corner of the globe can have a profound effect in another corner in no time. Here arises the need to fight any crisis together as a global community. All countries, where the coronavirus has been detected, need to share information and experience about the virus in order to fight this health crisis. While measures like quarantining, social distancing, maintaining hygiene, cutting down travel, etc. could help curb the spread of the virus, it is necessary to share authentic information about the disease between nations and states within countries to allay fears, as well as assist in developing a vaccine for the disease. But if countries, regions, states and communities choose to fight their own battles against this invisible common enemy and refuse to learn from each other’s experiences, the world will either take longer than it should to control it or end up paying a heavy price – more deaths –for its isolationist attitude.