The coronavirus is back, tormenting large swathes of the population yet again. Actually, it had gone nowhere, only we, the people, encouraged, no doubt, by the authorities, were in a hurry to pronounce its departure so that we could open up the economy again. Unfortunately, even before the economy could get back to its pre-coronavirus normal, it is forcing us to shut down a large part of what had been reopened only days and weeks ago. For instance, the entertainment sector, restaurants, hotels, airlines, etc., are forced to abandon hopes of an early normalcy.
In Maharashtra, one of the worst-hit states in the virus’s second, or third coming, nearly 36,000 cases were recorded on Saturday, with 166 fatalities pinned down to it. Maharashtra’s tally of infections alone accounted for more than half of the total number of infections last Saturday. On Sunday, Maharashtra’s tally of 40,414 cases was the highest one-day recorded thus far. On the same day, the number of new infections in Mumbai was 6,933, while in Pune, another city hit badly by the second spurt, it was 8,364. Nagpur, already under a complete lockdown, reported 3,999 cases on Sunday.
In the national capital too, there was a clear spurt in new infections. Punjab, Goa and Madhya Pradesh too have seen a surge in new infections. Overall, the nation-wide tally of over 3.9 lakh cases from March 22 to 28 was the highest since the October 12-18 week when it had totalled 4. 3 lakhs. Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has warned of a stringent lockdown should there be no let-up in the spread of the virus.
Despite the successful launch of the vaccination drive, the virus is still rampaging through the country and it will be a while before the vaccinations will succeed in insulating the population against it. Besides, new strains of the virus emerge daily, keeping medical scientists on their toes to modify the vaccines to neutralise its effects. In Punjab, for example, the UK strain has been detected in the newly-infected, while in Maharashtra reports spoke of a South African variant. All this indicates that the war against the coronavirus pandemic is far from being won.
As the Prime Minister cautioned in the 75th episode of his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ radio programme on Sunday, people should not disregard basic precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. “Dawai Bhi, Kadai Bhi, (Medicine as well as strict discipline)”, were necessary to fight the menace. Meanwhile, the vaccination drive will gather further momentum in the coming days, with the objective of achieving a target of 50 lakh jabs daily.
The system is being geared to handle the rush of people when those above the age of 45 will be eligible to receive the vaccine from April 1. The official Co-Win platform for registration for vaccination has been further upgraded to smoothen its operation. Predictably, due to the second wave of the virus, the mood in the corporate boardrooms and in the share markets has once again turned sombre, though the central bank still sticks to its growth projections.