From the Viewsroom

Yesterday once more

PT Jyothi Datta | Updated on March 23, 2021

The vaccine roll-out is encouraging, but face masks are still vital

It’s yesterday once more. Last year this month, Maharashtra went into a complete lockdown. And this was followed by the nation-wide shutdown to deal with the rising corona virus cases.

A year on, doctors are worried that hospitals and ICUs are filling up, even as the general mood in society continues to be cavalier. The surge in cases notwithstanding, people are taking their families on short holidays, social gatherings have resumed and cricket matches and political rallies are held with great gusto — with little or no masks and still less distancing. In fact, the latter continues to draw crowds. Mumbai’s marketplace in Dadar last week, for instance, was buzzing like any other day, with a row of women selling their fresh produce, wearing no face covering of any sort. The menfolk bundled their wares into vans to cart off to other areas, and their masks seemed to operate more like a chin cover! Similar anecdotal experiences are narrated from other parts of the country as well. And the saving grace, if any, is that there seem to be no protests yet, to the reimposition of restrictions on certain activities. In contrast, parts of Europe are seeing violent protests against the reimposition of lockdowns.

Just days ago, the WHO chief said, after six weeks of declining cases in January and February, they were now seeing the fourth consecutive week of increasing cases. And this was the impact of variants, opening up of societies, and inequitable vaccine roll-out, he said. Unlike last year, doctors have a little more to work with this time around. There are vaccines, more therapies, accessible testing and so on. But the real power to break the virus’ chain of transmission is in the hands of the people, say doctors. The simple measures against the virus last year, work against its variants too. So while people are encouraged to take their vaccine shots, it’s not time to give up on the face-mask just yet.

Published on March 23, 2021

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