It was Louis Pasteur, the 19th century French microbiologist, who in a moment of pessimism said: “It is the microbes who will have the last word.”
The second Pandemic of the twentieth century is proving his words right. For those uninitiated, Pasteur during his lifetime studied the disease of `Chicken Cholera’ and `Anthrax epidemic’ in France (1879) and developed the overall principle of vaccination and contributed to the foundation of immunology.
The coronavirus, alternatively called COVID-19, is now spreading so quickly around the world that, despite the containment measures taken by China where the virus originated; it now exists in almost every country. The ‘high-severity’ forecast, last month by various studies worldwide said that the outbreak would cause a catastrophic death toll and derail the world’s economy. It has been predicted `that millions around the world will die.’
As per the Worldometer website more than 82000 people have succumbed to the viral disease. 209 Countries and territories around the world have reported a total of 1,431,689 confirmed cases. The USA continues to be the epicenter of the Pandemic. The death toll has been going up exponentially in US, Spain, Italy and France.
Most of the countries are in a lockdown mode as `self isolation’ is a strategy adopted to contain the human to human viral transmission. Countries like US and UK who did not take the virus spread seriously are now facing the consequences. Countries have to make very difficult choices between closing economies and saving lives. Yesterday, UK Prime Minister has been shifted to a intensive care unit as his fever refused to subside after 8 days of self-isolation.
The medical staff across the world is in a serious dilemma. They are being put in scenarios which they have never been prepared for or even anticipated. A fight against an invisible virus, lack of protective gear, having to choose which patient to treat, an environment of huge personal risk and unending accumulation of dead bodies. It’s a battle that these warriors have been applauded for but one can understand and empathize with the deep emotional and mental fatigue that they must feel.
The Italian government is allocating a record 400 billion Euros ($432 billion) to help families and businesses tackle the economic impact of the pandemic. The Japanese government is also committing nearly $1 trillion to try to protect its economy and is expected to declare a state of emergency today. India has announced a package of 1.7 trillion rupees for welfare needs of workers with immediate needs.
India has been praised for buying time with early lockdown, but the coming week will prove to be a game changer. Experts say that we have still not reached community level spread but there have home some cases of community spread. In Mumbai’s slum Dharavi, tea vendor near the Chief Ministers Bungalow, a BMC sanitation worker amongst others. This is proving to be a herculean task for the health workers to trace the contact history of the person and then quarantine all the people.
As per the health Ministry, the total number of COVID-19 cases in India has reached 5351 and the death toll now stands at 160. Testing has beefed up and people are staying at home yet there’s an increase in the cases. The Union Health Ministry said, Maharashtra, Kerala, Delhi, and Tamil Nadu are COVID-19 hotspots. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has hinted that the ‘war’ against Coronavirus may take longer than expected.
Relief camps have been set up for migrant and homeless laborers, trains, hotels have been converted into quarantine wards. India is in between Stage 2 and 3 of Covid-19 pandemic. There have been some cases of medical workers infected. Delhi State Cancer Institute has been shut after 18 healthcare workers tested positive for Covid-19. On 6th April, Wockhart Hospital in Mumbai had to shut down as 26 nurses and 3 doctors were found to have been infected with the virus.
The coming days hold the key to whether India will stay on course to enter the ‘steady phase’ of the coronavirus pandemic by April 16. Let us hope for the best and follow what the government has told us to do.