Letters to the Editor  March 27, 2020

 thehindu.com  03/26/2020 20:04:40 

While the Centre deserves praise for unveiling a slew of measures to prevent the COVID-19 outbreak in India from escalating to alarming levels, there are some critical gaps in healthcare infrastructure which need to be plugged (Editorial, A long road, March 26). If the overwhelming response to the janata curfew was any indication, the citizens can easily surmount the present health crisis. However, while making people stay home-bound, there should be no disruption in supply of essential commodities. More importantly, the police should not go overboard while enforcing the rules but act with great restraint in dealing with delivery workers and health volunteers while they are on their routine move.


At a time when people have been advised to stay at home and practise social distancing as part of measures to combat the spread of the virus, concerns about the toll such an unprecedented lockdown would take on mental health of people at large are real and cannot be taken in a lighter vein. There is proven scientific evidence pointing to the inextricable link between prolonged periods of social isolation and high levels of depression. While practising social distancing, we also need to cultivate a sense of togetherness. The mental and emotional toll caused by the virus is as much a threat to public health as the virus itself.


No dramatic event in recent history has affected us as profoundly and pervasively as the COVID-19 pandemic has done. It has turned the entire world topsy-turvy, thrown daily routines out of gear, wreaked havoc on plans, and left a serious concern on financial markets and the economy the world over. The pandemic has affected our psyche in multiple ways and influenced how we think. The combination of uncertainty and danger is a recipe for severe angst.


The pandemics destructive potential will shake the foundations of Indias social and economic edifices. It required a Marshall Plan to reconstruct the shattered economies of the Second World War-hit European countries. The government will have to unveil a similar project. The redundancy of self-imposed spending limits is palpable. The crisis has exposed the perils of underfunding the public health infrastructure. One hopes the health emergencys bitter lessons translate into responsible policymaking. A strong economy with a weak social capital cannot build an equitable society.


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