India on Tuesday announced a 21-day national lockdown in an attempt to check the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, in stark contrast to the sluggish responses by some European nations.
Since the pandemic is still in its initial stage in India, the decisive move by the Indian PM Narendra Modi is praiseworthy writes the Chinese Global Times (GT).
According to the Union Health Ministry, the number of cases of coronavirus infection has reached 649 across the nation. The number of patients who have recovered and discharged from hospitals are 42. So far, India has reported 13 deaths.
— ANI (@ANI) March 26, 2020
GT writes that it is tricky to evaluate whether the lockdown is too early or too late, given the Indian government’s refusal to conduct extensive testing in the country.
With a population of over 1.3 billion, India has reportedly only conducted 15,000 tests, which just not adequate to realise the real extent of the outbreak. South Korea, in contract, with a population of 52 million has conducted over 300,000 tests.
A high-priced lockdown which will impact the economy may help New Delhi buy time, but it won’t be enough to halt the virus from spreading. GT says that besides a complete lockdown, New Delhi needs to find an effective way of combating the virus.
GT says that India should take a more proactive step of identifying who has been infected with the virus. Identifying infections is always the first step to restraining the spread.
Countries like China, South Korea and Singapore which have succeeded in crushing the epidemic have all conducted large-scale testing. And if India is short on testing kits, Beijing will be willing to offer assistance.
The GT then points out that India should make contingency plans like building hospitals as they can easily be overwhelmed during an outbreak.
It will take time for the Indian government to develop medical equipments, temporary hospitals and quarantine facilities. New Delhi must take timely measure and not wait for things to go out of hand.
A national lockdown comes at great economic and social cost, and is not just difficult for a government but also its people, particularly the impoverished ones.
Thus, in addition to guaranteeing essential daily supplies, the Modi government should figure out how to support the country’s most impoverished to overcome the expected economic winter, both during and after the lockdown.
Finally, GT concludes by writing that India should work together with its neighbouring countries like China to fight the coronavirus.
With its lessons learned during the pandemic, China has shared and is willing to further share its virus prevention and diagnostic experience with neighbouring countries. India should make fighting the virus its top priority and forget the trivial disputes.