Given how the number of cases is rising, it is tempting to demand a Lockdown- even Dr. Fauci recommends it. But clearly, those asking for it have no idea about the ground reality of the country.
Our healthcare system has totally broken down. We do not have sufficient hospital beds, we do not have sufficient oxygen, we do not have sufficient life saving medicines. The State does not have the resources to treat everyone who needs to be treated. In such a situation, how will Lockdown help?
Take the hypothetical case of one 47 year old who tests positive. The person is kept under home isolation, but the moment her SPO2 drops below 90, the drama begins. Her family starts the hunt for an oxygen cylinder which will keep her oxygen levels up. They run between dealers to procure oxygen and/ or medication.
When there is a Lockdown, will they be allowed free movement? Will the resources magically get procured and delivered in a contactless manner by vaccinated delivery staff?
The patient’s oxygen levels continue to drop. The family hears of a potential lead in a hospital, and bundles her and her oxygen cylinder into an auto to take her to the hospital. If she is lucky, she is given a gurney and with her oxygen cylinder she waits for a bed to become available. Her family is with her, waiting.
As long as the hospital infrastructure is absolutely inadequate to meet demand, and there remains a severe lack of confidence in the medical system, will a Lockdown prevent people from rushing their severely ill relatives to hospitals, and waiting with them till they get support? No Lockdown will contain people indoors while their relatives are dying.
The patient doesn’t recover. There are 24 hour long queues at crematoria.
Will a Lockdown help? Can mourners be kept away from cremating their own?
In the current situation where numbers are rising drastically, and the public doesn't have confidence in the system, even Lockdowns will not keep people indoors. And these are the people who are in contact with the severely ill patients, and are therefore most likely to be spreaders.
By declaring a Lockdown, all that will happen is that the families of those who are sick will be harassed even more than they are now. Last year, we saw how the Lockdown affected the socially and economically marginalised. Does it make any sense to repeat that, when the category of people who are most likely to be spreaders (the family of severely ill patients) cannot be contained by a Lockdown?
At this point, the best that the government can do is to mandate that all business that can shift to a work from home model do so. Exams can and must be cancelled. Restrictions placed on all unnecessary gatherings. Greater precautions be taken on public transport. A lockdown is neither feasible, nor possible- we need to do the best we can.