New Delhi: As many as 41 scientists from various Indian Institutes of Technology, the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, the Indian Statistical Institute and several others called for an “immediate end” to large-scale lockdowns as “an ongoing Covid management strategy”.
In an open letter published Wednesday, the scientists welcomed the ‘Unlock 4’ guidelines issued by the home ministry on 29 August, but highlighted three primary concerns that still need to be addressed.
The first concern was regarding the continuing restrictions on public transport and other economic activity. The scientists called these restrictions “unfair” and “extremely harsh” on people who did not have the financial resources to carry on without any economic activity
“This has directly translated into lives lost,” they said.
Secondly, the scientists noted that malnutrition in children was a rampant problem in India and lockdowns have only worsened the situation.
Finally, they also highlighted that while Covid-19 was a major health concern, it was not the only one.
According to them, there are many other health concerns in India, such as child vaccination, surveillance of infectious diseases, reproductive health care for women, diabetes, tuberculosis and heart diseases that require attention as well and could not afford to be ignored.
The 41 signatories of the letter demanded that public transport — both long-distance and local buses and trains — needs to resume immediately in a phased manner.
“Opening private transportation and air travel is highly insufficient, as the vast majority of Indians depend on public transportation for their livelihood,” they wrote.
They also asked for unrestricted inter-state and inter-district travel for both people and goods.
The final demand of the scientists related to effective public health messaging, which includes “aspects such as following precautions of wearing masks, physical distancing, avoiding crowded areas and not touching face with unwashed hands”.
“Covid-19 should be addressed as a public health concern, rather than a law-and-order problem,” they added in the letter.
As of Friday, India has reported over 39 lakh cases of Covid-19 and more than 68,000 people have died due to the virus.
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