Covid-19: Thus far so good 
but don’t drop guard now

Here is a piece of good news in these grim times. India is past the Covid-19 peak. That optimistic finding is based on the study conducted by a 10-member multi-disciplinary panel, headed by a professor in the Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad. Though the virus is still raging, it had reached the peak in September and is now in a slow fade-out. We might have a number of cases even in February next year, but the pandemic curve by then would have reached the baseline. For the scourge to stop completely, it would take eight to ten months, but the worst may be already behind us.

The study, 'Progression of the Covid-19 Pandemic in India: Prognosis and Lockdown Impacts', clarifies a few other aspects about the handling of the pandemic. One, the migrants did not spread the virus in significant numbers. Two, it was correct to ensure that they stayed put wherever they were in the initial few days of the Lockdown-I, because it helped contain the virus at a time when it was spreading like wildfire. Three, the stringent lockdown helped prevent the infections from rising and causing deaths in mind-numbing numbers.

The study conducted various lockdown scenarios to come to the conclusion that without the first stringent lockdown, the total number of cases would have peaked in June at 14 million with 2.5 million deaths by August. The steps taken by the Centre and the states ensured that at the end of September, we had but one million symptomatic cases and one lakh deaths. Since then, the daily numbers of infections are on a downward curve. Some parts of the country may have already attained herd immunity.

Here is a warning, though. The coming festival season can cause havoc unless citizens at every level take simple but absolutely necessary precautions. This warning was earlier sounded by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan. He had pointed out how after initially succeeding admirably in keeping the infections down, Kerala saw a huge spurt following unrestrained celebrations of the Onam festival in September. Epidemiologists will have their fingers firmly crossed as the nation enters the peak festival season in the coming days. Durga Puja, Dusshera and Diwali, etc. will be celebrated in the shadow of the Covid-19 virus.

So long as celebrants keep that uppermost in their mind and respect social distance, hand-washing and mask-wearing precautions, it should pass without inflicting much damage. Here, we can do no better than to note the journey of the virus in Europe to buttress the need for utmost care during the coming festival season. Most European nations are clamping down on free movement of people and imposing restrictions on bars and restaurants following a huge resurgence in infections.

Despite severe resistance from groups of people, stiff curbs are back in France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic, the UK etc. In the US, 44 states are in the grip of a huge surge, largely due to the open resistance against even basic precautions such as masks, social distancing etc. Overall, India has not fared badly in containing the virus, especially if, till the end of the festival season we can conduct ourselves with much-needed restraint and caution.

TRP scam: Let him who has not sinned…

The so-called Television Rating Points scam was all along a motivated exercise to fix Arnab Goswami and his Republic TV and Republic Bharat. The activism of the Mumbai Police Commissioner was matched by the celebratory response of a newspaper group, which also runs a couple of news television channels of its own. Despite the group editorially adopting a moralising tone and highlighting the alleged wrong-doing by Republic TV, a study has found that its lead TV news anchor left behind even Arnab Goswami in whipping up an irrational mass hysteria over the alleged deep-rooted conspiracy in the suicide case of the actor Sushant Singh Rajput.

From June 16 to October 6, 2020, Arnab spent 65 per cent of the so-called debate time on the SSR conspiracy, while the rival channel, competing for the same pro-government eyeballs and belonging to the group taking the high moral ground in the TRP scam spent over 69 per cent of airtime on the subject.

Significantly, in the petition filed by various film industry associations, both these channels and their loudest anchors have been listed as respondents. Ironically, the group relies on one of the more compromised promoters of another television channel to buttress its undeclared crusade against Arnab and his Republic TV. The truth is: 'Iss hamam mein sab nange hain.' The motto is: 'TRPs ke liye sab kucchh maaf hai'.

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Free Press Journal