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Paranoia has made our world a strange place

Paranoia has made our world a strange place

Today, Covid-19 cases in India are over 33,000 after a national lockdown of over a month. The numbers do seem intimidating. After all, India now is in the 16th slot as far as the number of novel coronavirus cases go. But let’s understand the math.

India is a country with 1.3 billion people. This means that the number of people infected with this virus accounts for 0.02 per cent of the population. In other words, out of every 10,000 people, about two are infected by this disease. Infected, not killed.

Since many naysayers have suggested that the numbers would have been much higher if more tests were conducted, let’s take a hypothetically extreme case and put the Covid-19 positive cases in India at one lakh—close to 3x of the current figure. Even then it would be 0.07 per cent or about seven people out of 10,000.

Several analysts and even politicians and administrators have already given their verdict: if the national lockdown is not extended beyond May 3 for at least a few more weeks, it would be doom.

The SARS-Cov2 induced coronavirus, which originated in China, is no doubt deadly and has claimed over 2.28 lakh lives across the world, especially in the US, Italy, Spain, and many other countries in Europe, apart from China. It is, therefore, imperative to take stringent measures and precautions to arrest the spread of this disease, but what is turning out to be even deadlier is the rise of unprecedented paranoia.

When you talk to people, you talk only about Covid-19. When you go to your grocer, you are suspicious of everyone around you—as if all of them are carriers of this deadly disease. You cannot go for a walk because you are scared of getting infected. You do not want to touch anything or anybody because you are almost sure that the person next to you is Covid-19 infected. Everybody is suspicious of everybody else and everything.

That apart, in case a person gets infected, s/he is not only shunned and isolated but is being made to feel guilty as if it were a crime to test positive. The unparalleled stigma that is being attached with those who get infected is turning out to be self-defeating as people are unwilling to get tested even for social fears.

Are we living in a real world?

The country has been locked down since March 25. No factories or offices are operating. India’s growth projections for 2020-21 have been slashed drastically to anywhere between nil or negative and below 2 per cent. But strangely, almost every Indian seems to be willing to bear the brunt, for few are complaining.

The way the authorities have handled the situation has only led to a new kind of untouchability. A few days ago, the news reports of a doctor, who died of coronavirus, hit headlines as he was refused a dignified burial by the local people due to fear and panic.

Doctors and paramedics who have been handling infected patients are being tormented and mistreated—by the same people who so loudly tolled bells and clapped for the so-called corona warriors during the janata curfew last month!

After Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh yesterday announced an extension of the lockdown in his state, many welcomed it, hoping that other states follow suit.

While a vaccine or a drug will eventually deal with the virus, it will a herculean task to get rid of the fear and attendant illnesses..