Covid-19 DEF Dialogue, is a special series initiated by Digital Empowerment Foundation on Covid-19 where we connect with key individuals within our network in 600 locations across 25 states to find out how Covid-19 and the lockdown situation has impacted their area and the measures they are undertaking to tackle it. We will also be interacting with industry experts to gauge the situation and measures that can be undertaken.
Osama Manzar, Founder and Director, Digital Empowerment Foundation, spoke with—Saleema Razvi, who is a Research Economist at Copenhagen Consensus Centre. The dialogue covers issues like lack of proper healthcare infrastructure, Covid19’s effect on economy—and most importantly, if quarantine and lockdown are the only ways to stop coronavirus.
“India with regards to the spread of the virus is nowhere close to peaking—and currently it is only at the tip of the iceberg. The dynamics of the country—the lifestyle of the people is quite conducive to facilitate the spread of virus and the transmission. India is undoubtedly a heavily populated country and more than half of its population suffers from respiratory ailment.
The status of the country is not at all prepared to face the pandemic, especially in terms of infrastructure. India doesn’t have enough hospitals, beds, ICUs, nurses etc.
The decision of the lockdown by the government albeit is a positive step, and yet it cannot be perceived as the solution to control or stop the spread of the pandemic. It is a good option and one of the measures required to flatten the curve.
It is largely applicable to the middle-class and the upper middle-class families—who have shelter, food and a place to isolate themselves. The poorest of the poor, the daily wagers’ lives are in jeopardy, as they have no money and food.
Forget Sanitization, the poor have to venture out on the streets in search of food. Lockdown doesn’t work for such people at all.
The current situation is self-explanatory and the onus is on the citizens. The people have to stay indoors, be hygienic and stay safe—but on the contrary, the poor are deprived of even these basic amenities. It should be the state government’s responsibility to put welfare in place. They should set up health camps—especially in the areas where there are dense settlements—and provide food, water, shelter on a daily basis for the people—so they don’t venture out on the streets and expose themselves.
India’s Case Fatality Rate (CFR) is around 2.6%, which is lower than the global average of 5.8%. This proves that a very small part of the vast Indian population has been tested. Considering, India’s poor health infrastructure—it is likely that more number of cases will pop up when people are tested.
According to Boston Consulting Group report, India will be in its peak infection phase by the end of June, 2020—and only then, gradually the effect of the virus will begin to taper. This year is gone in just thinking or managing the crisis.
Despite having one of the best medical facilities, US and Europe are hardly able to manage the pandemic, and there have been 3,50,000 confirmed positive cases. According to the Boston Consulting Group, US will only peak in the month of May.
India is absolutely an the beginning of the curve, and only when all containment measures taken by the government and the citizens fall in place, will India be able to flatten the curve.”