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Festive Season just in, India at the risk of Soaring COVID-19 cases

Ahead of Dussehra and Diwali, will India surpass the U.S by reaching the highest number of COVID-19 cases? PM Modi advises the citizens to follow the covid-19 guidelines in lieu of the massive rise of COVID-19 cases during September.

Sakshi Jain & Ashima Pargal

"In India, from Jan 3 to 19 October 2020, there have been 7,550,273 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 114,610 deaths,” stated WHO. India was the slowest to reach a million cases amongst the three worst-hit nations— India, USA, Brazil— but the next million cases didn’t take too long. 10 months into the global pandemic, India seems to have observed a sharp rise in the total number of coronavirus cases.

The curve isn’t expected to flatten anytime soon. On September 17, India reported the single highest number of cases in the world ranging at 97,894 whereas the U.S stood considerably low with a total of 34078 confirmed cases. However, with a current difference of 6.4 lakh cases between the U.S. and India, will India beat the U.S and become the world’s no.1 in COVID-19 cases?

Analysis of Lockdown and preventive measures in India and U.S.A

India began its nationwide lockdown on March 24 post the Janta curfew on March 22, restricting the movement of 1.3 billion people of India as a preventive measure for COVID-19. This lockdown was imposed when the number of cases in India was around 500 (approx.). All services, educational institutions, and businesses were closed except for grocery shops, hospitals, banks, and other essential services. The lockdown had 4 phases of restrictions till May 31 after which began unlock 1.0 from June with eased restrictions in certain areas. This was specific to the state and city. Rules concerning containment zones remained firm.

As per the Government’s orders, the citizen’s approach to lockdown rules was followed strictly. PM Narendra Modi made frequent appearances in the media to talk about the dos and don'ts during the pandemic. In his various addresses to the nation, he advised people to wear a mask, wash their hands regularly, maintain 6ft distance, and to follow the necessary guidelines issued by the state and central governments. Apart from this, he also encouraged people to appreciate the people working at the forefront of the pandemic, to boost their morale.

The US, on the other hand, initiated the lockdown at different stages in different states. Trump requested people to restrict movement on March 16, five days after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. According to a report from BBC, California and New York state went into the lockdown on March 19 and March 22 respectively. The state of Georgia was one of the last to actualise such measures on April 3. Critics stated the Trump organisation's defective and deferred rollout of coronavirus testing implied that the states had restricted data on the magnitude with the virus spread in February and early March. The President made light of the danger during this period.

Many Americans believed that the obligation to wear a mask is a restriction to their persona freedom and, as a result, many protests broke out in the country. President Donald Trump himself refused to wear a mask on multiple occasions. Furthermore, he was careless at various press meets and conferences and posed as a poor example to his citizens. He began wearing masks much later into the year.

New-Normal, not so normal amid the festival season

Kerala once posed as a model state for their excellent efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus in the state, now experiences a rise due to negligence. Gathering of people for Onam celebrations coupled with trade and tourism in certain parts of the state without necessary precautions led to the upsurge. As of October 18, the state witnessed a total of 96,000 active cases and a total of 3.3 lakhs confirmed cases in Kerala. Union health minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan in his weekly online interaction, Sunday Samvaad said, “Kerala is seeing a spurt in cases due to ‘gross negligence’ during Onam.” He also mentioned that other states need to learn from Kerala and not make the same mistake during the festive season.

Although the curve in India seems to be flattening, the health experts are still fearful that India might face a rapid rise in cases. North India has entered the festival season, with Navratri, and Dussehra. Will India still sustain the virus as it had been doing for the previous 3 weeks with regular testing or Plunge into the festival season without restrictions. Festivals are a time for relaxation, while the shopping might help in fueling the economy the government is very cautious about the new normal and has issued guidelines which need to be followed during the festival season.

India’s plan of action in the coming months

PM Modi addressed the nation on October 20, concerned with a possibility of an increase in the number of cases due to upcoming festivals. Observing the shift in the public attitude, from being cautious to casual, towards the disease, he stressed upon “the importance of masks, social distancing (Do Gaj ki Doori) and washing hands” in his recent tweet. “Even a small degree of carelessness will have adverse impacts”, he added.

The Union Government has issued certain preventive measures to contain the spread of the virus, ahead of the festive season. As per the guidelines, the health ministry has prohibited the celebration of festivals outside homes for people living in containment zones. Additionally, The Ministry of Home Affairs advised the organisations conducting exhibitions, fairs, play etc. to limit the number of people, along with regulating crowds at all times. They have asked all such venues to always keep a sanitiser or soap for people touching common surfaces. The air conditioner temperatures should be set between 24-30 degrees, and medical arrangements along with linkages to hospitals and other healthcare institutions must be made. It is advised that people above the age of 65, people with health issues, pregnant women, and children below the age of 10 stay home.

Edited by Tanishaa Vikas Jain and Purvai Parma Shivam