“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ― Margaret Mead
What has the government done so far?
It has isolated people- encouraged social distancing and has kick-started a central and state level program to contain the disease and help the economy. This gives time to the virus to infect a smaller number of cases- and these cases then can be identified, we can identify their contacts and they can be treated and discharged well. Gradually we build a pool of resistance, as though we keep closing doors till the point that the virus cannot enter our homes anymore in large numbers and overwhelm our healthcare services.
What can we do as citizens?
If we develop fever, or any signs of a lower respiratory infection- get tested! Do not wait for it to “get better” or “get worse”. Get tested! Speak to your local hospitals – let our voices reach the administrators who look into the need for ramping up testing, isolation and treatment facilities. More demand will lead to more supply hopefully.
Getting tested will give us two results: 1. We are infected 2. We are not infected
IF we are infected: i. Then we must quarantine ourselves, keep a distance, recover and rest (we have 3 weeks of lock-down for this). ii. Those who we are in immediate contact with should be encouraged to test and get themselves treated.
IF we are not infected: i. Great- follow the lock-down and ensure that you remain safe- keep reading up, avoid fake news and try to chill as well as you can. ii. Look how you can volunteer in your society/ building or community. Sitting at home does not mean “do nothing”- it means do whatever we can by sitting at home- which can help us and each other.
Indeed, at the start of April we had 300 cases in both Maharashtra and Kerala. Though there may be different factors- today, Maharashtra has 1985 cases and Kerala 376 (from the state-wise date by the Ministry of Health and family welfare, accessed today- 13 April 2020). The role of the citizens is very important in this process. We must learn from one another- and move ahead- this is not a regional, religious, political, ideological fight anyway. This is not a competition between cities, states or countries - this is a fight against disease that cuts across all boundaries.
As I heard Boris Johnson, the prime minister of the UK says in his speech after recovering from Covid-19, we are fighting “A fight we never picked against an enemy we still don't entirely understand".
The country needs all of us more than ever after the lockdown- doctors, healthcare workers, professionals, service providers, financial brains (please help the nation make some money while you get richer), politicians, lawyers- and all of us from different walks of life.
So yes, let us relax for now- that is the best we can do, and let us plan to prepare for a better future. And we must believe that we will not be alone in these endeavours, as we find those whose visions and dreams match our own.