The Scarlet Plague, written by Jack London, a US writer and journalist, was one of the first examples of post-apocalyptic novel in modern literature. Set in a devastated and wild America, the story takes place in 2073, sixty years after the spread of Red Death, an uncontainable contagion that desolated and depopulated the world. The book was noted in 2020 as being very similar to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the ancient world, plagues and pandemics were frequent calamities. No medicine could arrest the spread of such infections; the only way to escape was to avoid contact with infected persons and contaminated objects. This has lessons for us: the importance of SOPs and protocols. Where medicines don’t work, safety protocols do the job.
In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the infection has spread wildly. Nothing could stop it, and the world was in a state of absolute panic such as never experienced before. The absence of any antidote increased the fear. It was a situation of hopelessness. The only hope was quarantine, social distancing, wearing of masks, washing hands frequently, avoiding contact, wearing PPE kits and other safety protocols. Stay home, Stay Safe became the mantra. But it is a short-lived remedy because people have again started flouting the protocols. Dr Nipunie Rajapakse, an infectious diseases expert, said that the SOPs that people are being asked to follow are not easy. They are disruptive, they are challenging, but there is evidence to show that they work when implemented. People have forgotten the consequences of lowering the guard against the pandemic. Let alone social distancing, wearing face masks has become a thing of the past. This lackadaisical attitude can have dangerous effects. Though vaccination drives are going on, safety protocols are essential to break the chain of transmission.
Safety approaches, including personal protective measures, social distancing, and surface cleaning need to be implemented to contain the disease. Lowering of the guard may prove disastrous in this situation. We need to prevent the spread of infection by following all the SOPs recommended by the World Health Organisation and by medical experts. Strict implementation of protocols should be encouraged especially in crowded places. Keep calm, stay safe, and follow the protocols is the way to win this war. This, too, shall pass.
—The writer has a PG degree in Mass Communication and Journalism. [email protected]