Unlock 1, as they call it, started on June 8 with some relaxations after three months of lockdown to prevent Covid-19 transmission. However, the unlocking may be premature as the pandemic here is spreading. Various learned analysts have expressed concern over the opening of the lockdown amid a surge in positive cases. In Kashmir, most of the districts stand declared as red zones. Experts and authorities are calling for a change in lifestyle to prevent Covid infection. However, lifestyle changes are not so easy as to take place overnight. They won’t happen by mere advertising or sermonising. Instead, a mechanism is needed to establish the “new normal”, to enforce it rather than to present it as a choice or alternative.
Face masks, gloves have to be made elegant and suitable. Design of seats in public vehicles, exam halls, class rooms, conference halls and hospital wards, clinics and shops have to be reorganised mechanically to ensure physical distancing. Sanitisation gradually has to be made automated everywhere. People have been thronging to bank branches for drawing cash. There are long queues and no social distancing. Banks need to devise a strategy for home delivery of services, especially for elderly people.
Establishing the new normal is an uphill task. It needs a mechanism, a system. Masses are, after all, masses. There is a Kashmiri saying: “Looke Mout Gav Anne Gout” (unruly mobs amount to darkness). The masses are prone to rumours, conspiracy theories, and ignorance. It is the duty of the learned people to not just show the way but also pave the way.
At this testing time, technology can be of great help. Westerners made a gadget worn on the wrist that gives an alarm as they try to touch their mouth or face. This helps them mechanically to avoid touching their mouth and face. By this small device they can avoid what we keep sermonising and yet fail to do ourselves.
Let the administration invite corporates, NGOs, academics and experts to prepare a common strategy against this calamity. Let ‘people’ join hands in making better healthcare infrastructure. By doing that we can fight any damn thing, even bigger than Covid-19.