Living with Covid

Two years after the pandemic broke out, the world
finds itself at the crossroads. Even as China and Hong
Kong continue to enforce tough restrictions, some
European nations are preparing to live with the virus in a
business-as-usual way. In the UK, mask-wearing in
public places and Covid passports will not be mandatory
from January 26, with PM Boris Johnson declaring that
the latest wave has ‘peaked nationally’. Early next month,
France will lift the cap on the number of people allowed
to attend indoor and outdoor events, while masks will no
longer be a must in public. In Portugal, which boasts of
one of the world’s highest Covid vaccination rates,
President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has announced that
the country has moved into an endemic phase. Spain is
making plans to treat the next surge not as an emergency
but an illness that is here to stay. ‘Covid-19 must be
treated like other illnesses,’ says Dr Salvador Trenche,
head of the renowned Spanish Society of Family and
Community Medicine, adding that ‘normalised attention’
by health professionals would help reduce delays in
treatment of ailments not related to the coronavirus.The
first and second waves of the pandemic led schools to
completely shut down in-person teaching and take
learning online. Post the end of the second wave, there
was some relief in that a number of educational
institutions went back to normal working while following
mandatory Covid protocols. But then again, hardly after
a month or two had passed, the Omicron variant raised
its ugly head and forced students to go back to online
learning. On January 20, Chief Minister Uddhav
Thackeray’s government in Maharashtra announced that
schools in Mumbai and in the rest of the state will reopen
from January 24 for classes 1 to 12 while adhering to
Covid-19 protocols, especially given that the state has
been witnessing a constant decline in cases. In Mumbai
daily cases dropped below 10,0000 for the first time in
two weeks while the case positivity rate fell from an
average of around 22 per cent over the past week to 13.7
per cent this week.
Is India ready to bite the bullet and adopt the new
Covid playbook? The Maharashtra Government has
taken the lead by announcing the reopening of schools
for physical classes from January 24. The Centre has
highlighted that unlike the destructive second wave,
the current surge is not getting out of hand due to
comprehensive vaccination. This trend should make
the Central and state authorities confident of the
robustness of their pandemic response and not destroy living hood.

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