As the biggest healthcare crisis of our times, the coronavirus pandemic is disrupting the livelihoods of people across the world and re-writing the social norms. It is reminding us that health is the most important asset we all must preserve. With no medical solution available yet, the human behaviour holds key to contain the spread of the deadly virus. Limiting social contacts, maintaining physical distance and following strict hygiene have now become the important tools to fight the disease. There are limits to the efforts that the governments can make in terms of ramping up health infrastructure, ensuring treatment to the sick and needy and helping vulnerable sections. Ultimately, the battle against Covid-19 will be won if the people feel a greater sense of social responsibility in following the guidelines. The pandemic has emphasised the power of social responsibility, from individuals as well as community leaders. Community ownership and discharging of social responsibility by each citizen remain the most important factor in containing the disease. And, the deficiency in any of these measures may change the trajectory of the cases. The raging pandemic has prompted societies to adopt new norms in virtually every sector with the most important change happening in the way we gather and conduct our businesses. Physical distancing has become the new norm. Increased social responsibility may be the solution to curbing the threat of future pandemics such as antibiotic-resistant microbe outbreak.
While testing, contact tracing, surveillance, quarantine, isolation and treatment are important interventions from the governments, it is the active public participation that holds key to the success of the battle against the coronavirus. A recent study on “100 days of lockdown”, published in the ‘Indian Journal of Medical Research’, has shown that breach of the lockdown led to a spurt of cases in several parts of India. In the initial days of the lockdown of 21 days, there was a visible impact and the virus could be contained. Before the lockdown, the doubling time was 3.4 days and it improved to 7.5 by April 19 and to 12.9 by May 13. Despite these efforts and the extended lockdown, the number of cases has risen in India, as the last 10 days of the 100-day period showed a major breach with heavy movement of people from one part of the country to another. This large scale human movement allowed for the proliferation of the virus which is causing greater disruption and destruction. The public participation in understanding an infectious disease is very important to contain it. There is a need for non-pharmaceutical interventions such as educating people about prevention and protection. Hand and respiratory hygiene and social distancing must be practised for the next few months.
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