Third Covid wave can have political fallout in Goa


Exactly a month ahead of polls, Goa’s Covid graph is midwayto the peak. Back in March 2020, when the pandemic finally hit our shores, theAssembly polls were on the horizon but did not pose an immediate hassle. Ourpolitical luminaries could have hoped to rely on the short-lived public memoryhad it not been for the third wave of the Covid pandemic, which began onDecember 28. The political fallout of the pandemic on the upcoming Assembly pollsis now a given with the third wave being a fresh memory as the electorate castits votes. 

How a state responds to any crisis usually seals the fate ofthe ruling party. While anti-incumbency is already in full force, the manner inwhich the BJP handles the surge expected in the coming week could prove to bethe tipping point for a large majority of the silent electorate.

The first two waves were handled shabbily, to say the least,much like the government formation tactics employed by the ruling dispositionin 2017. However, this time, the health ministry has pressed into force itsmost ambitious project, the super-speciality block at GMC, complete with 580oxygen beds and a liquid medical oxygen tank to prevent the horrors of May2021.

The expert committee on Covid management has spoken not oncebut twice, discreetly offering a breathing space to the government inanticipation of Omicron-fuelled swell in Covid cases which is likely to spreadpanic among the masses. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi has categoricallyordered all Chief Ministers to refrain from imposing yet anothereconomy-crippling total lockdown, there is a need to enforce restrictions.

The entire medical fraternity is in agreement that thestate's medical infrastructure will not be able to sustain the pressure if thestate's focus graph goes beyond a certain point of no return. Though theadministration is prepared with a "graded response" to an increase inthe number of hospitalizations and simultaneous rise in critical cases, it isgoing to be a tough task to manage the exponential numbers.

On Thursday, there were 85 Covid patients admitted at GMC,of whom seven were critical. Two of those seven were on ventilators. But byThursday evening, 43 more were admitted to the hospital. GMC medical staff isbeing infected and with a reduction in staff, if the number of hospitaladmissions continues to surpass the number of discharges for even a weeklonger, Goa's medical infrastructure could begin to shake under pressure, ifnot crumble. Given the expert committee's prediction that the numbers will peakaround January 20, it is clear that yet another crisis is staring at us that nogenome sequencing machine can hope to resolve.

Around the world, incumbent governments have delayed theelection schedules in view of the third wave. Where elections were held as perschedule, either major public controversies have broken out over the governmentdecision or the incumbent governments have been returned to office reflectingsupport to the manner in which they handled the Covid crisis in the past.

Conditions laid down by the Election Commission of Indiahave evidently curtailed effective campaigning. But the damage has already beendone.

Closer to the elections, the ruling party will be unable toget away with passing the blame on to the general public as it did during theprevious two waves. Out of fear for their own lives, there is a strong publicdemand for tightening restrictions. The horrors of the second wave still hauntus. A lot can still be done to prevent the sacrifice of lives and health at thealtar of democracy.

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