New Delhi is in the middle of a serious public health crisis due to covid-19 pandemic. The national capital after surge in cases during the first phase showed how to sail through. However fresh wave has happened amidst a predictable set of factors with winter being more hospitable for the contagion, mass interactions due to festivals and reckless behaviour on the part of people, either due to fatigue or complacency, testing tilted towards the antigen tests rather than the more reliable RT-PCR mechanism. There was least concern towards tracking and isolating cases. All this has led to a spike in the cases. In the first phase, Delhi showed how it was good to be prepared. The Union Territory had surpassed Mumbai as the Indian city with the highest number of novel coronovirus cases. It recorded in excess of 2,000 cases daily for more than five weeks in June and July. At one time, the local government apprehended caseload would cross 5 lakh by the end of July and there were fears of the healthcare system being overwhelmed by the surging virus. Then the government ramped up testing and bolstered the medical infrastructure. The measures paid off as there was an appreciable fall in the daily caseload in the two weeks that followed. However present phase showed that recklessness and go by to the set of procedures can bring the situation back to square one. Rather it can worsen the situation as the virus is far from being overcome.
The situation has reached a stage that the government is considering imposing selective restrictions. The lockdowns are blunt instruments that should not be the first line of response in a public health emergency. They were necessary to check the transmission of the virus during the early days of the pandemic when very little was known about the pestilence. The measures have unleashed a collateral tragedy that continues to take a high toll more than four months after the easing of the lockdown.
The latest surge in Delhi is another indicator of the unpredictable ways of the coronavirus and how it can hit hard. The present time is different from what was at the beginning. The governments are better equipped to deal with the virus, both in terms of scientific knowledge and medical capabilities. The government of Jammu and Kashmir and people need to learn lessons to ensure that lives and livelihoods remained protected and vulnerable do not become victims.