The US’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a 60-page document revising its Covid-19 guidelines and offering suggestions on how the US can reopen. According to CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund, the revisions were the product of an internal review and “usability testing”. The CDC document only makes a comparative analysis between the person-to-person spread of the virus and transmission via surfaces, which is fairly obvious. When it was imposed, it was done without warning, leading to unbelievable misery for large numbers of people who found themselves without jobs, income, food, or shelter — a situation that many governments seem unwilling to acknowledge. While most countries take cues from CDC guidelines, India is quite unique because we initiated an early and prolonged lockdown, and continue to be under restrictions. Lockdown was neither imposed well (abrupt, disrupting lives and livelihoods) nor implemented well (numbers grew 20 times to 12,000 in 21 days, by 15 April). Health infrastructure had to be ramped up, equipped with testing and rehab facilities, oxygen capabilities enhanced and isolation centres readied. People also needed to be educated, a little panic had to set in for everyone to adopt acute measures like maintaining distance, wearing masks and incessantly washing hands. The CDC has recommended simple and long-term strategies for a gradual opening of offices, schools and other institutions, while ensuring that the infection does not spread through contact. But in India, policymakers needed the lockdown to rework budgets, announce stimulus packages and increase outlays for public health programmes.
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