23 March 2020
Bhubaneswar: A week back, India had only few cases and doctors were able to quarantine them, give proper medical attention and care to each of the infected persons. Many of them even got cured. But now, the number of infected persons have rose to more than 415.
The Curious Case Of Italy
Similarly, Italy also had 322 confirmed cases of corona virus in the second week. But as it entered the third week, the number of cases surged at a very fast pace. There were 2502 reported cases. The doctors in the hospitals could still attend to the patients and provide life saving ventilators when needed as the numbers were not too high. But, then the cases multi folded to more than 10000 within the next few days. And there weren't enough doctors, nurses, medical equipments, etc to tend to everybody.
The doctors were advised to follow the prescribed guidelines and allocate the limited health resources who had the maximum chances of survival. There were a set of concrete recommendations for the doctors stating how to manage these impossible choices. Age limits were set, which means the elderly persons were left to die, unattended due to scarcity of resources as their number of life years were less when compared to the younger ones.
Moreover, these guidelines applied even to patients who require intensive care for reasons other than the coronavirus, because they too make demands on the same scarce medical resources.
On March 22, Italy announced 651 dead in one day, bringing its total to 5,476. A day before, there were 793 deaths due to this virus. The situation is so grave that the people cannot grieve over the deaths of their loved ones, nor can attend the funeral. Even the dead are in queue to be buried.
Why Indians Have Greater Responsibility At This Grave Hour
When PM Modi appealed for a Janta Curfew, people readily joined the cause and there was a complete shutdown on March 22 nationwide. At 5 pm, people came out on their terraces and balconies to clap for the health workers (as suggested by PM Modi). But interestingly, many were seen in a celebration mood marching in groups on the streets blowing conches, ghantas and thalis. The purpose of the curfew was defeated then and there as there was no 'social distancing' amongst them.
The people have to understand that the war has just begun, and we have to be extra cautious in the coming days. India is not well equipped in healthcare system if this turns out to be an epidemic (in fact no country is properly equipped for it).
People boast of not being afraid by ignoring directions, sulking because their normal routine is temporarily stalled. But if Italy is in an impossible position, the challenge facing India is very clear: To arrest the crisis before it becomes impossible for us to handle, and to stop the virus from spreading freely on the streets of India.
This means that our political leaders, the heads of business and private associations, and every one of us need to work together to accomplish two things: Start engaging in extreme forms of distancing, and follow the directives of the government seriously (frequent hand wash, venture out only if very necessary, do not panic,etc) and we will definitely win this war.
So, Indians brace up as time is ticking away.