A quick take on what may be in store for us.
I am not an Epidemiologist. Neither am I an expert in Virology or the COVID-19 viral infection. I am just a common man with keen observation and a soft heart with hands in a praying position.
Yes, the anxiety of COVID-19 has caught me tightly in its deadly grip. But, the rudimentary hope still remains hanging in balance. All thanks to the incredible job done by the ruling dispensation to mitigate the virus from reaching India.
But, there has now been a breach, alerting us to face a disaster in case our worst fears come true. While most of us would argue that Global pandemics in the past like SERS, MERS, Ebola had no to minimal impact on India, let us identify the reasons and should the case be true, do we have a chance to buck the trend.
1. Namaste…The Great Indian Culture
The gesture of Namaste is proudly Indian with the entire world looking up to this mode of greeting. Revisiting this traditional greeting over the handshakes (picked up by Indians due to Globalization) may support to curb transmission of the virus. Ironically, we Indians always believed in social distancing and will continue to do so. It is inherent amongst us to give a call than to visit a relative/friend. No doubt that Indians spend quite a lot of time on mobile phones than the rest of the countries.
Also, all thanks to the eternal Indian mindset of savings, we will follow the suit and advisories to stay put at home!
Besides, few states have imposed Section 144. Unarguably, this might be the first of its kind when Section 144 has been imposed to avoid the viral pandemic.
2. The Peculiar Indian Geography and Demographics
India does not share close/proximal borders with China. The sky-high Himalayas may act as a natural barrier unless trekkers from each side of the countries show pride in scaling these, exchanging handshakes and transmitting the virus! We must thank authorities in Nepal, for having shut down such expeditions and also closing Mount Everest.
Besides, there have been a large number of cases across a specific latitude. India falls much below that latitude.
With a population of around 1.35 billion, close to two-thirds of India’s population is below the age of 35 years. Besides, the average age of an Indian is just 29 years much lower than the worst affected countries like China, Italy, Iran and Japan.
While the Corona virus affects people in the elderly age group, this is indeed a level of natural defence. However, the population density in India stands at 420 people per square KM. Community transmission of COVID-19 may cause havoc with the situation quickly spiralling out of control.
3. Thanking the Weather Gods
India is naturally blessed with tropical and subtropical climate with humid weather conditions all across the year, barring few winters up in the North.
The current viral pandemic would witness extremely high temperatures in India. In fact, most of the cities with the highest population densities are already witnessing temperatures beyond 32° celsius. And yes, most Indians are also shy to proffer a handshake in the summer seasons to avoid wet and sweaty hands.
But our dependency on the weather gods looks too optimistic for our innate preparedness to fight the virus. Maybe this is one of the reasons is that most of the Indians are now praying for a hot and simmering summer season than ever before. But wait, are we praying for the rise in global temperature?
4. The Generally Insouciant Indian persona
We have always believed in being connected to mother nature. Our immunity has always been the best. Right from childhood, We loved playing with mud/dirt and being exposed to all sorts of lethal viruses and bacteria often recovering with full immunity for life.
In fact, the hygiene hypothesis also states that Indians have a lesser incidence of Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome precisely for this reason compared to their western populace.
The uptake of annual flu vaccine in India is dismally low compared to other countries. We embrace flu-like no other… the benign versions though! In fact, just a few cups of piping hot tea are enough to recover…
The arguments mentioned above are anyways just hypothesis, we have to wait and watch in the days to come and support our health care system in bucking the global trend
All may not be good as viruses often adapt to new agents and become more lethal or virulent. A case in point is the established community transmission in India like other countries, and who knows the virus may turn more lethal after its Indian debut.
Besides, It might be quite dangerous when such a virus spreads and makes it difficult to compare it with pneumonia, the incidence of which has traditionally been quite high in India.
Indian celebrities and leaders should also prompt the general public to maintain hand hygiene. A video released by the WHO Director-General on the Safe Hands challenge which shows the appropriate methods and practises of hand hygiene is a case in point.
These are testing times. Please Stay Safe and Be alert. Going by the populist regime, in time anything can be MODIfied. Big kudos to the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
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