Corona Virus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a new virus which the medical authorities are gradually coming to grips with the situation. The virus has affected all the countries in the World and efforts are on to contain the spread by social distancing testing and finally respiratory treatment.
Much has been written about all this and one would focus on the Way Ahead. One is confident that the WHO and all countries particularly India are straining every sinew to social distance, test and quarantine people to ensure trajectory is flattened and health authorities get a hold of the situation. The moot issue is what would be the way ahead? The answer is extremely difficult as it would be different for each spot where the virus is effective. For the first time the whole world is fighting one virus and it is undoubtedly a difficult fight.
The answer probably lies in what our Prime Minister has advised our Cabinet Ministers on 06 April 2020 to work out a graded response where there is an evolution of the current system of working. At the outset every person must wear a mask. The next thing that is to be done is to ensure a reduction of numbers and minimising contact. This would have to be done till a vaccine is found which would take minimum six to 18 months. Next entries into public transport must be subject to checking; travellers by aircraft to be cent percent tested. Buses and trains to be permitted to run to 50 percent capacity and no pooling of taxis and shared electronic rickshaws to be controlled. All industries to provide protective clothing to the congested sections of workshops. Further shops and other establishment must ensure social distancing.
Schools and colleges to be gradually opened and where ever possible compress the syllabus and run these institutions in two shifts. At all places testing should be easily available and all this must go on till a suitable remedy is found. We should not allow crowds to build up as has happened in Huangshan in Anhui province of China on 04 April 2020.
As far as the Armed Forces are concerned they would have to space their activities for a few weeks and thereafter plan on outdoor exercises based on the medical situation. In the border areas where extreme vigil is to be maintained testing must be done to isolate symptomatic and asymptomatic cases. Ensuring all this and working in a proactive manner will help us to tide the situation effectively.
Author: Maj. Gen P K Chakravorty
The writer was Major General Artillery of an operational Command, and Additional Director General Artillery at Army Headquarters. He has also served as the Defence Attaché to Vietnam and is a prolific writer on strategic subjects. He is the consulting editor for Brahmand 2012 and is compiling a monograph for CLAWS, Firepower-2030.