Subscribe to our weekly newsletter

@

Why are people pretending as though Covid has vanished?

6 April, 2021 18:54:05
Why are people pretending as though Covid has vanished?

As of April 5, that is yesterday, the number of new Covid cases in a single day was 1,961, according to the state government’s daily Covid-19 bulletin. Exactly a month ago, this number was 255. As of April 4, the total number of Covid-19 cases was 5,93,615, officially. And this is just West Bengal we are talking about. So why are so many people pretending that Covid has disappeared? Not to mention the conspiracy theory that the whole thing is a giant global scam to earn profits for pharmaceutical companies, or the belief that since not even the vaccine is foolproof, there is no need to bother with precautions at all.

“The point of the vaccine is not that it prevents Covid,” says Dr Chiranjib Bhattacharjee of the state-run SSKM Hospital. “But it does ensure that if you still get Covid, the impact will be less severe, and recovery quicker. Which also means you cannot become a spreader.”

While the principal offenders belong to all age groups, the younger generation possibly have greater reason to not care about maintaining protocol, says Pratyasha Sarkar, a second-year student of Jadavpur University. “While most working professionals are now going to work or generally going out on work, even if to buy groceries, a majority of students are still cooped up at home attending online classes.

What is most striking about the second wave of Covid infections is the nonchalance with which most people seem to be treating it, as though the risks have somehow vanished. “People have lost the fear of death, they have got over the shock they felt last year as people they knew died of Covid. Now, I think they are banking on the fact that the mortality rate is relatively low,” says finance sector entrepreneur and New Town resident Shubhankar Sengupta. 

His wife Gitali Thakur, who runs an NGO, says many residents of their housing complex are strictly obeying Covid protocol within the complex premises, but completely ignoring them as soon as they step out. “Especially in crowded markets and shopping centres, I don’t see the norms being followed at all,” she adds. “The domestic help who come in here put on their masks only when they are walking in through the gate.”

What happened to social distancing and diligent wearing of masks? Why are so many people convinced that even if they do get Covid, it will be little worse than the seasonal flu? “Ask anyone who has lost a family member or loved one to Covid, or ask any medical professional,” says Dr Bhattacharya. “They will tell you differently. We are still watching people die. The risks have not lessened in any way. And Covid is still unpredictable in the way it affects different people differently. We simply don’t know yet what kind of damage it can cause.”

While the principal offenders belong to all age groups, the younger generation possibly have greater reason to not care about maintaining protocol, says Pratyasha Sarkar, a second-year student of Jadavpur University. “While most working professionals are now going to work or generally going out on work, even if to buy groceries, a majority of students are still cooped up at home attending online classes. For us, our ‘workplace’ is still off-limits. So the frustration is probably greater,” she says.

A major motivating factor seems to be the elections being conducted in different states, including West Bengal. With hundreds of thousands of people attending political rallies, leaders whizzing in and out from Delhi and other places, the signals being sent out, consciously or otherwise, are that it is okay to gather in large numbers, okay to travel long distances, and okay to do away with social distancing. And people are picking up these signals.

“People have lost the fear of death, they have got over the shock they felt last year as people they knew died of Covid. Now, I think they are banking on the fact that the mortality rate is relatively low,” says finance sector entrepreneur and New Town resident Shubhankar Sengupta.

What if the relentless spike we are witnessing currently were to lead to yet another draconian lockdown post-elections? Many people, experts and ordinary citizens alike, have expressed this fear. “I don’t see that as a possibility, given how devastating the previous lockdown was,” says Shubhankar. “A large number of people are going out not because they want to, but because they have to. They will starve otherwise. At most, I suppose the government will enforce stricter adherence to Covid protocol.”

While that is all very well, the threat of Covid remains present, and the vaccine, coupled with social distancing, wearing masks and sanitization are still the best ways to combat it. As general physician Dr Partha Sarathi Sengupta says, “We can’t suddenly become impatient and lead normal lives as though nothing is wrong. The best thing to do is to accept Covid as part of life for now, and live accordingly. Things will change for the better, sooner or later.”
 

Leave a Comments

Related Post

×