Second lockdown: Discipline and Responsibility

Self-protection equals protection for all. The logic is so utterly simple: if we are not infected, we cannot infect others

By Dr R Neerunjun Gopee

As my colleague Dr P. Chitson points out in his interview in this paper, ‘the pandemic has shown that freedom without responsibility can be a toxic mix!’ During discussions we had been having at various stages of the pandemic, he had opined that sooner or later the virus would find its way into the community, since the frontiers were not closed completely and international travel was taking place, though restricted and with quarantine protocols followed. His remark about ‘freedom without responsibility’ is therefore a timely one.

So the call for ‘discipline and responsibility’ during the announcement of the lockdown is in line with the scientific perception of the situation as it has been evolving and is being observed medically on the ground. To be more effective this appeal must be accompanied by personal example on the part of elites, experts and practitioners at all times, but also by dispelling the rumours still going around that arriving VIPs and VVIPs have been allowed to go about without following the recommended guidelines. However, we are reliably informed that they have had to comply with the protocol recommended. Still, to make assurance doubly sure to the people, this apprehension must be addressed so that the latter don’t feel that they are being let down.

With the buzz that was going around since the identification of the new cluster before the last weekend, the lockdown didn’t come entirely as a surprise, and in fact there is already speculation that it is likely to go beyond the 26th March. Unless ALL OF US show ‘Discipline and Responsibility’ by being rigorous about following the sanitary measures that we all know by heart already, but that perhaps ‘Covid fatigue’ and the fact that we had been deemed Covid-safe for quite some time had made us become complacent towards and rather lax in implementing the rules.

Covid-safe yes but not Covid-free, as this second wave has come to remind us. That it now does not morph into a surge depends a lot on how all of us conduct ourselves during this second lockdown, and that will also be factored into whether there may be an extension. To repeat the well-known cliché: we are all in it together, and we will sink or swim together. The responsibility is both individual and collective – because self-protection equals protection for all. The logic is so utterly simple: if we are not infected, we cannot infect others.


“The call by religious heads and associations in regard to the ongoing gatherings for ‘40-heures’, Cavadee and Maha Shivaratri was a most appreciated patriotic move. In particular, in the case of Maha Shivaratri, there had been lengthy and intensive prior preparations by enthusiastic youths across the island that started as far back as December last to get the kaanwars ready. No need to say they looked forward to accomplish the final step of the mission by journeying to Ganga Talao, and many are those who will miss the nocturnal magic that prevails there during this truly magnificent festival…” Photo – Sun Resorts Hotels


To that extent the call by religious heads and associations in regard to the ongoing gatherings for ‘40-heures’, Cavadee and Maha Shivaratri was a most appreciated patriotic move, as the editorial in the last issue of the paper underlined. In particular, in the case of Maha Shivaratri, there had been lengthy and intensive prior preparations by enthusiastic youths across the island that started as far back as December last to get the kaanwars ready (vide the article by Savita Tiwari in the last issue of the paper). No need to say they looked forward to accomplish the final step of the mission by journeying to Ganga Talao, and many are those who will miss the nocturnal magic that prevails there during this truly magnificent festival that is so infused with pure, sattvic joy and which is awaited with so much of yearning and fervour.

It was to be expected that putting a sudden stop to the momentum was going to be problematic, and rightly it started with a call for those who were already on the way – many from the far corners of the island – to complete their yatra, with all precautions observed. This may explain why there were still some on the road even until close to the announcement of the lockdown, even as others were being asked to refrain from going.

There is also a paradox here in the sense that since people were being advised to stay away, this would mean a reduction in the numbers at Ganga Talao – which many may have erroneously interpreted as therefore it’s safe to be there! Nevertheless, practically all — myself included – who had not yet started off cancelled their plans, and I must say I have really missed an opportunity to have interesting discussions about Maha Shivaratri with the young ones who were going to be my loving companions this year after many years of I-only journeys! Never mind, my dears, we will definitely catch up.

For many, many of us, this will be a year to remember, the one when the Maha Shivaratri yatra had to be called off because of Corona-ji.

Now we must hope that such a phenomenon will not recur in future, as the thinking in the medical and health profession is gaining ground that Covid-19 has already become endemic. Reflecting about ‘Post-Corona’ shortly after the declaration of Covid-19 as a public health emergency at the beginning of last year, we had written:
‘Like other pandemics that came before it, the current Covid-19 episode will also come to pass. When, not even the best experts can say at the moment, but based on the past experience of the evolution of disease patterns over time, the most reasonable estimate is that it will be a few months at least. In course of time, viruses circulate among the population as a normal phenomenon, and produce diseases when the conditions are conducive – like the influenza virus which attacks during the cold weather, and then we talk about the “flu season”. Because the influenza viruses are of different types as new ones emerge periodically, they are monitored by the WHO which advises what are the circulating types in the northern and southern hemispheres respectively, and vaccines are manufactured accordingly.

This may happen with Covid-9 too…’

It has already happened, as Covid-19 is here to stay and has produced new variants as an evolutionary adaptation to survive the assault on it by the multi-pronged approach devised by public health experts, scientists and clinicians attempting to prevent its spread and curb severity and mortality – sanitary measures, innovative treatments, vaccines.

Henceforth we have to keep in mind that – At best we can control, but not eliminate, let alone eradicate Covid-19.


* Published in print edition on 12 March 2021

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