Corona Diaries 27: Our Clay Dams Against A Tsunami

It’s getting worse. Consecutive lockdowns now look no better than crumbling clay dams before a tsunami. As this piece is being written, COVID-19 cases in India have surpassed the 1.5 lakh mark. From one lakh cases to now, it has been a leap, not a trudge. The number of deaths has crawled up to more than 4,000. Signs of community spread of the virus are evident. With lakh of migrants still on the move, there’s no way we can guess how deep it has travelled so far. And, experts say, it’s only the beginning.

How far will it go? Grim predictions abound. We have many trajectories thrown at us, each ride on a set of numbers and none is comforting. In other countries the virus appears to have slowed down a bit. While new cases keep coming up and deaths continue, it is not at the rate a few weeks ago. However, it could be the lull before a killer second wave, warn people at the centre of the COVID battle. In case of the Spanish flu of the early decades of the 20th century, the second wave was far more dangerous than the first one. Other projections of the disease, based on the experience of pandemics earlier, point at multiple smaller waves.

In India, the first wave has begun rolling. It has created such formidable challenges that any talk of succeeding waves is premature at this point. Lockdowns have offered us time to prepare for the jolt, in whatever intensity it is delivered. We have expanded our health infrastructure to accommodate lots of cases. But ‘lots’ can be a vague term when you are faced with a possible tsunami. It does make clear whether lots is enough.

By now, we realise that lockdowns are of little help. Elsewhere in the world, there’s growing clamour to throw them to the wind and ignore the possible consequences. But can we afford to discard the idea entirely? No. Clay dams they might be, powerless against a mighty flood, but that’s the only option we have. It is the only area of the pandemic fight we can be in control of. We can ease them or use them with caution, but not reject them. They might not have flattened any curve, but they are a reminder that our fight is still on. We are not giving up yet.


It was a bit late to make its presence felt in India, but now COVID-19 is set to explode, say experts. The ascent has begun. It is expected to hit the peak mid-June before taking a couple of months to taper off, they warn. Some are of the view that the peak may come in July or August. Given we are at 1.5 lakh cases already, the number that we might reach by mid-June and later months is horrifying. The massive jump in daily numbers only indicate to one possibility: after the US first, then Europe and South America next, India would be the new epicenter of the pandemic. By the time the disease plateaus and ends the descent, we would be looking at a disastrous scenario. The number of deaths could be frightening. And to think of it, some are predicting a second wave in winter!

The point here is not to throw readers into the panic mode, but to urge them to be careful, very careful. It’s better to be panicky than careless.

Also Read: Lockdown Likely To Be Extended Beyond May 31 


Let’s have no delusion about it, say experts, every single individual is susceptible to infection and is a potential carrier. Age demography of the disease maybe in favour of the young and healthy, but it is only in the case of recovery, not getting infected. Once infected, they might distribute the disease to many without showing any symptom themselves. That is the most troubling aspect of COVID-19. It’s not news to those following corona coverage on the media. Most people are thus familiar with what has to be done about it too.

Yet it does not reflect in their activities when they move out of homes. While masks or handkerchiefs hang on their faces, physical distancing rules are flouted with abandon. One gets a sense that some people assume that once lockdown is over, the problem is over. Well, this attitude can be the reason behind the spike in cases, and god forbid, a second wave later.

Also Read: Shops Sealed In Cuttack For Violating Social Distancing


Is there a silver lining somewhere? Well, yes. COVID-19, experts assure, is not a big killer compared to some earlier pandemics. It has a fatality rate of less than three per cent in India. A large number of cases carry minor infections. So the recovery rate is high. This is true of even patients over 60 years of age. According to the Union Health ministry, against 4.4 deaths per a lakh population globally, India has only 0.3 deaths per lakh. Also, we have utilised the lockdown well to expand capacity to accommodate more patients. But as we have underlined earlier, all preparation may come up inadequate if it is a tsunami of cases we are up against.

It is up to citizens more than the government to prevent that situation. Since every individual is a potential disease carrier, the burden of prevention lies squarely on each of us.

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