How will life change for us in the post lockdown exit period and what have we learnt from the coronavirus outbreak? As every doctor and administrator in the world claims that it will be a ‘new normal’ and you have to live with it but what is the new normal and how should one live with it? Many experts in India and abroad have stressed the point that the world will now referred to as the post Coronavirus world and the pre Coronavirus days.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan is clear that there is no need for getting paranoid but at the same time it is imperative that the government guidelines should be fully and completely adhered to. You cannot let your guard down and one should continue to follow guidelines like social distancing, wearing a mask, avoiding crowded places and in short make sure you don’t come into contact with anyone who is not wearing a mask. Social distancing is the backbone of the current strategy, which has slowed down the spread of the virus. Telemedicine is the new doctor- patient relationship.

The globetrotters will be most affected, as travel is a NO-NO in the immediate future. Going to the movie hall and shopping in the malls are taboo. Big fat weddings are forbidden. Handshakes are out and the good old Namaste in. Working from home wherever possible will be the new norm. The web seminars will continue and in short a new lifestyle should be devised individually/ collectively and followed scrupulously.

What does it mean to live with the virus? Minister Harsh Vardhan says that it means that the Coronavirus is not going to go away tomorrow though other diseases like small pox had been eradicated. This virus will be around like the Ebola and Sars. It is imperative to follow the hygiene guidelines until a vaccine is found. Many scientists in India and abroad are working on this vaccine but it will take time.
While the pandemic is deadly, there have also been some good things, which had emerged in the past few weeks due to the Covid panic. For the first time the Prime Minister has shown that he wants to take everybody along including the opposition, chief ministers, media and public. What the Supreme Court and the State governments could not do to ensure clean air, clear blue sky, rejuvenated water bodies, pollution free environment, chirping birds, restoration of the wild life etc., the Covid-19 has achieved in 8 weeks. The fear of the unknown has done the trick.

Secondly, India has shown that as a country she can fight even a pandemic unitedly. Despite many difficulties, people had obeyed the government guidelines and fought the pandemic and obeyed the lockdown.

The third thing is that both the Centre and the State governments had shown that they could rise to the occasion and work together putting aside their differences and political agenda. The cooperative and competitive federalism had come into play for the first time. The States competed with each other in their enterprise and performance and even the egoistic regional satraps like Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik, West Bengal chief Mamata Banerjee, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan had earned praise from the Prime Minister for their enterprise.

The fourth and most important achievement is that due to the combined efforts of the Union Health ministry and the States, the death toll in India is much less than many other countries including the US and Italy. For a country of 1.3 billion, the number of Coronavirus case count crossed one lakh mark and the death toll so far is 3,072. The fifth is that the rural India has saved the country by keeping vigil on the villages and by keeping the strangers out. By and large, the villagers behaved responsibility and kept the visitors outside the villages in quarantine.

The sixth is that the private employers, the Centre and the state government had messed up the migrant labour crisis, which could have been handled much better. The humane approach was lacking and neither the migrant labour nor the country can forget the way they were treated like animals. It is a shame for us Indians that our brothers and sisters had to go through such pain.

The seventh is that the opposition could not unite even on a severe outbreak of a pandemic. The Congress party, which is the main opposition party, failed to unite the opposition and each party went their own way in keeping a vigil on the government.

The moral of the Coronavirus story India is in the learning process to cope with any pandemic. The most important lesson from the pandemic is that health is wealth not only for individuals but also for the nations and the health sector should get priority funding.

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