This article is shared by a Kashmiri artisan, experiencing the downfalls of lockdown leading him to say it was a life-threatening decision.
Sanju Dar, artisan, trader, from Srinagar, Kashmir
2020 was an eerie year with a strange new virus attacking the Earth with violent ferocity. WHO (World Health Organization) declared a worldwide lockdown of the globe. Many pandemics have been controlled by isolation and lockdown but the manner in which the COVID-19 lockdown was implemented proved to be disastrous.
Here are the Reasons Why the Lockdown Was Life-Threatening:
In no small words, I say that the lockdown was life-threatening! Yes. People lost their lives for many reasons:
People lost their lives out of Panic: Being enclosed in the four walls of a home, clustered with many people with the fear of the pandemic out there brought terror in hearts. Even if people were not sick, they got sick eventually, and if they caught COVID, they were petrified and died. The greatest immunity for sickness is a positive mind that raises antibodies to fight diseases, but fear killed many.
Over Masking when Walking and in Homes: When going on a walk, I noticed people masking even in open spaces. People were even masking inside their homes! They were so terrified to step out and when they did, even in fresh clean air with no one around, they were busy double masking. It is important to breathe fresh air without masking in order to allow the body to fight pathogens in the air and build resistance, but they were not allowing their bodies to build immunity. Also, double masking in open places was cutting the flow of oxygen to their lungs, which was needed. I felt the people were not taught of the importance of these tiny truths, with the only emphasis on lockdown, which was creating more panic.
Domestic Violence Increased: Social workers reported greater domestic violence and even deaths during the lockdown. Men and even women who were used to working out in offices felt suffocated in their homes, frustrated with their spouses and children, and with no outlets, they started abusing each other and getting more violent. The government should have made provisions for work outside with a lot of COVID testing and sanitization. The complete lockdown was not the answer but a disaster.
There Was no Identification of Danger Red Zones: An entire nation with a population of 1.38 billion people was locked up without a solution for months on end. It was a frightening experience to be enclosed inside the four walls of our homes left to die in deadly silence and all of us people were as quiet as mice. We spoke almost in whispers and were afraid to step out. I guess some of us felt COVID was swarming in the air around us. Most did not realize it is caught by infected contact through water droplets.
Firstly, an entire nation should never be shut down like a national prison. The government should have identified red-hot COVID zones and walled those areas in and quarantined COVID-infected people and areas but definitely not everybody!
No Planning for Businesses: A pervading sense of fear and dread filled us all. If we were tested for COVID and vaccinated, we should have been allowed to conduct our businesses, trade, and travel freely but following the COVID norms such as distancing, masking, and sanitizing.
While nations like China also imposed strict lockdowns for three months or more, they arranged for food to be distributed to doorsteps. After China vaccinated its population, they are back in full swing with business and trade, flourishing richly, in fact making us suspicious as to why they sprung back to normal so fast. But I guess it was all due to good swift planning of which they have the skills, plus they also overcame the sars-cov-2 virus in 2010, similar to COVID-19, so they had the medical technology.
Government Closed Down NGOs Who Could Have Helped: During national calamities, NGOs help the most but in India, the clampdown of thousands of NGOs, with the government stripping their funds have tied their hands in the COVID disaster.
Our Mental Health Declined: Suicides increased drastically and it was heartbreaking to learn that every few days someone had taken their lives, drowning in depression and hopelessness, and young people died from sudden heart attacks over the last couple of years.
Economy Crashed: Thousands lost jobs, businesses closed down, and traders and artisans bore the brunt of economic losses into crores of rupees each day and rationed food was poor in quality. The sound of joy and laughter that used to spill over on the streets dwindled away.
The lockdown was terribly planned and poorly implemented and this was the main source of turmoil in the state with everything coming to a deathly standstill.
Not Enough Outreach for Vaccines: Also, there was not enough outreach for vaccines, nor good healthcare, free medicines, or free COVID tests through Kashmir.
Secondly, when vaccines were manufactured, each state should have been provided a full supply of vaccines, managing the states as a tiny nation so that everyone or at least 70% of the population gets vaccinated.
As an example, Bhutan was fully vaccinated and their COVID deaths are zero. Britain had 60% of its population vaccinated and deaths are now down to 1 digit and trade and businesses are not affected.
Chattisgarh, a tiny state in the central of India ensures a massive free vaccine drive, costs covered by the government, and free COVID testings are conducted, even at railway stations, airports, and bus stations. Chattisgarh is not in a dead lockdown, trade, and business is thriving well, and the people are careful to mask, sanitize, and distance, and at the end of the day, they are prospering financially and doing well health-wise with also good medical care and hospitals.
I trust going forward, the situation will improve and life-threatening lockdowns will be lifted with strategic planning to enable a flourishing flow of business, build up the economy again, and strengthen the mental health of the citizens during these unusual times.