It is a matter of grave concern that the numbers of new Covid-19 cases in the country are refusing to show any signs of significant decline. In fact, we have been warned by our Prime Minister of the possibility of a second wave, which is likely to worsen as winter approaches. The manner in which we are going about our daily lives amidst the ongoing pandemic would seem as if we are out of the woods, which we are not. According to a recent report published in this daily, the government is aiming to implement and monitor a "no mask, no service" policy. It has asked public and private organisations not to provide services to people without a face covering—made mandatory in all institutions, markets, schools, and social and religious gatherings. As the number of infected people nears 400,000, the reluctance to wearing a face mask remains worryingly common.
Experts around the world have predicted that winter will exacerbate the spread of Covid-19, and there are widespread fears that the second wave will be even worse than the first. Countries across Europe are seeing a resurgence in cases after successfully slowing outbreaks earlier this year. While the "no mask, no service" policy is surely an optimistic and prudent approach, why the government did not ensure the strict implementation of such directives earlier on remains a question. Moreover, should we have to face a second wave, it will be wiser if we also put social distancing into practice—especially in packed mass transport and places of gathering. Hygiene practices too, seem to have become a thing of the past. The cautionary instincts which were once so apparent amongst the public seem to have lost its zeal.
In dealing with the pandemic, we must learn from our past mistakes and lack of control. We fear whether the new directives can be properly enforced as the government previously failed to implement them, including when people were warned that they would have to face legal action if they do not wear masks, maintain social distancing and follow health guidelines while outdoors. We need to revise our deficiencies in the healthcare system and prepare it for a second outbreak. At the same time, the government must explore all possibilities for procuring Covid-19 vaccines as lagging behind in the global race for it is not an option, even more so with the possibility of a new outbreak. The first time, we failed to make the most out of early warnings; we simply cannot afford to do the same again.