Incorrigible slothsSpring up into action before a third wave sweeps us away.
We have been there, seen it all. And yet, we are not going to change our ways. There is no telling if we are simply accustomed to keep making the same mistakes over and over again or if we are doomed to do so. The first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic came as a shock to us, as we had depended on our lucky stars rather than preventive measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The second wave came as a shock again, for we had thought the pandemic had been over once and for all. The third wave, with its possibly raudra avatar, is on the horizon, and it is as if we are still waiting to see for ourselves how dangerous it is.
The infection rate has hit the roof globally, with the United States alone recording 1 million new cases on Monday. For those of us in Nepal, Delhi is not too far, and the scare the Omicron variant of the coronavirus has caused there, with the number of cases rising geometrically and the megapolis going under several restrictions, should give us enough reason to begin precautionary measures on a war footing. And with the S-gene missing in a growing number of cases—the World Health Organization has said the S-gene is not present in Omicron due to multiple mutations—health experts warn we are on the verge of an Omicron outbreak. And yet, it is business as usual.
As we stare at what appears to be an inevitable onslaught of a third wave, the first question to ask is: As students are increasingly being kept at home globally, why are Nepal's schools and colleges, which health experts have predicted to be the next possible coronavirus hotspots, still in operation? Why are they forcing students to be physically present in classrooms without even enforcing strict coronavirus safety measures, thereby turning educational spaces into congregations of Covidiots? If they have not built sturdy online learning-teaching infrastructures even two years after the virus disrupted our education system, it says more about the incompetence of the academic institutions and the government rather than the virus itself.
We cannot depend on a hit-and-miss approach in the highly infectious Omicron instalment of the coronavirus pandemic just as we did during the brutally fatal Delta instalment. But the government's lackadaisical approach and the public's "Who cares?" attitude tell us otherwise. It is still too early to say how deadly the Omicron variant will be for an insufficiently vaccinated country like ours, and the only way for us at the time is to keep ourselves protected—by vaccinating, testing, tracing, masking and physical distancing. Now that we are past the frenzied occasions of political party conventions, festivals and the new year, it is time to get serious about the threat the Omicron variant is posing, as well as the continued threat the Delta variant is posing.
We cannot return to the gloomy days of lockdowns yet again. We cannot return to the days when our patients had to be treated in hospital corridors and parking lots. We cannot return to the days of fighting for bottled oxygen. We cannot return to the days of counting the dead by the hundreds each evening. We cannot continue to remain incorrigible sloths in the face of a virus variant that threatens to ravage our lives. This time, let's spring into action before the ground beneath our feet starts shaking.