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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

We’ve handled Covid well. But we must remain vigilant

Awareness, alertness and prompt action will help minimise the threat posed by the virus and save lives as we move forward into the challenges of a post-COVID world.

Written by M Venkaiah Naidu |
Updated: March 11, 2021 8:45:10 am
The pandemic wreaked havoc globally and crippled the economies of the richest nations in the world, sparing none.

India’s COVID-19 management abilities were put to a severe test by the raging pandemic around this time last year. Experts were apprehensive of the toll it would take on a densely-populated country like ours. However, India took confident, considered and well-calibrated steps. It formulated a well-coordinated strategy to meet this threat.

In a timely move to prevent the spread of the virus, about two weeks after WHO characterised the novel coronavirus as a pandemic on March 11, the government of India decided to impose a nationwide lockdown.

This early pre-emptive action helped cut the chain of transmission, saving thousands of lives across the country. Proving the predictions of scaremongers wrong, our frontline COVID warriors in all states, strove determinedly to ward off the challenge posed by the dangerous coronavirus. In this gigantic effort of waging a war against a deadly virus, our medical fraternity including doctors, para-medical staff, health and sanitation workers, as also our brave police personnel, ASHA workers in villages, our scientists, innovators, entrepreneurs, researchers and vaccine manufacturers, worked tirelessly, racing against time to save precious lives. I salute all our frontline warriors for their indefatigable efforts in the fight against COVID. I would also like to place on record my highest appreciation and gratitude to our scientists and vaccine manufacturers for developing vaccines against this deadly virus.

Viruses travel across countries in a matter of hours in a globalised scenario, testing the preparedness of nations. The pandemic, which killed and caused sickness as it cut through large swathes of the human population across continents, humbled and brought some of the most powerful nations in the world to their knees. The virus, which infected millions of people and took the lives of thousands of others globally, hit India with all its severity around this time last year.

Adversity steeled the nation’s resolve, bringing Team India together as one to meet the threat. It is in this spirit that all states joined the fight against COVID-19, while leaders of political parties rose above all differences to serve the people in this unprecedented global health crisis.

Manufacturers worked at breakneck speed to meet the need for life-saving supplies — from sanitisers, facial masks, PPE kits and surgical gloves to ventilators and vaccines. This unprecedented national effort was in keeping with the spirit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of an Atmanirbhar Bharat — a glowing example of a cohesive, self-reliant endeavour.

The media played a stellar role in educating, informing and enlightening all of us on the novel coronavirus and a vast array of related topics. To their credit, media persons, braving all odds, stood at the front lines when the pandemic was its peak, working on a 24×7 basis to keep the country updated on emerging developments with regard to COVID-19.

The pandemic wreaked havoc globally and crippled the economies of the richest nations in the world, sparing none. Inevitably, it cast its long shadow on the Indian economy as well. While every single sector was severely battered by the impact of the COVID-19-induced lockdowns, India’s farmers stood tall. The country’s agriculture sector proved its resilience in the face of adverse conditions. India’s agriculture and allied activities registered a growth of 3.4 per cent during 2020-21, hitting a record production of 296.65 million tonnes for 2019-20, which was 11.44 million tonnes higher than the production of foodgrains of 285.21 million tonnes achieved in the previous year. Currently, as experts and analysts have pointed out, the worst appears to be behind us, and the economy is back on an upward trajectory.

It is the spirit of collaboration with other countries that proved to be a valuable takeaway from this pandemic. Our shared effort was a true reflection of the ancient Indian world view that the people around the world are one family and they need to work together. This collective vision and effort, marked by resilience and transparency helped us to achieve among the lowest fatality rates in the world.

The way forward involves a multi-pronged, long-term strategy in developing pandemic responses on a global scale through shared resources.

The novel coronavirus continues to impart valuable lessons to us on pandemic management. Doctors have been advising that we must stay active physically and mentally. Those who are used to a sedentary lifestyle should find time for regular physical exercise. We should try yoga and meditation to reduce the high stress levels. Experts have also recommended that we should move towards a nutritious, balanced diet, which boosts our immunity and that we should ensure that our homes have natural lighting and ventilation.

Even as the biggest vaccination drive in the world is now underway, we must be mindful of the fact that, as a country, we are not yet out of the woods and the pandemic is still a reality that can take a more fierce shape if we do not adopt the right measures in time. As a society, we can ill-afford to lower our guard and be cavalier in our response to the virus. We must continue to adhere to the essential practices of washing hands frequently, maintaining social distancing, wearing face masks and avoiding crowds and gatherings. One should heed the advice of doctors and get oneself vaccinated without any hesitation. Awareness, alertness and prompt action will help minimise the threat posed by the virus and save lives as we move forward into the challenges of a post-COVID world.

This article first appeared in the print edition on March 11, 2021 under the title ‘A year of resilience’. The writer is the Vice-President of India

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