COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that has never previously been identified in humans. The first case was detected in the Hubei province of China at the end of December 2019. The virus is highly transmissible, and thousands of new cases are being reported each day. Coughing and sneezing are believed to be the most common forms of transmission of this virus.

As per the Social, geographic, and demographic factors which differ from country to country, we cannot just copy the measures adopted by those countries as we need to keep in mind our economic aspects as well.

Apart from the complete lockdown already being announced and numerous containment measures imposed including travel restrictions, closure of the educational establishment, gyms, theaters, and ban on mass gathering.

 To curb the spread of pandemic named COVID-19 in the country the following steps could be taken:-

ü I will conduct aggressive testing and contact tracing. No doubt, it will increase the tally of the number of confirmed cases. But it will help in avoiding a larger outbreak. Another reason for conducting aggressive testing is that patients detected at an early stage do not need hospital care and they can reside in COVID care centers.

Testing should be accelerated but not randomly. Everyone with symptoms of fever, cold, cough, sore throat, breathing trouble, pneumonia, respiratory illness should be a top priority for PCR testing. Also, symptomatic contacts of known positive patients and health care workers should be top priority Rapid antibody testing simply tells you if a person has had the disease at some point and not necessarily then, whereas PCR testing is a confirmatory test. It is not possible to subject 1.3 billion to testing for any country but one should use the case definition as above. The purpose of the test is to isolate suspects and then treat them.

ü Human waste as a viral source is being discharged to sewage systems, ultimately reaching wastewater treatment plants. These treatment plants are large aerosol generators and disinfection occurs only at the end of the treatment train. Several sub-processes ahead of disinfection are substantial aerosol generators and aerosols by their very nature can drift long distances. We may not know how well this virus survives as it passes through the treatment train and if the effluent is used to irrigate municipal lawns, as does occur in China, will it then be available for human contact. We already have studies showing that antibiotic-resistant pathogens are deposited in municipal parks through recycled wastewater.

ü Country with 1.4 billion of the population with different economic capacity in such a situation it becomes necessary that basic needs like (food, shelter, medicines etc) of people get fulfilled in the situation when the sources of income are shut. It is also necessary to maintain social peace in such high alerts. Financial assistance should be given to people with lower income groups or daily wage earners. Tax incentives, loans, guarantees, wage subsidies could be given to reduce the devastating effect on pandemic on the economy.

ü Supply chain of the necessary goods and medical equipment should be maintained to avoid the scarcity of the resources.

As the relative importance of China in the worldwide economic ecosystem has increased tremendously in the past 18 years: China has more than doubled its share of trade with the rest of the world between GDP, an almost four-fold increase.

Mounting pressure to reduce supply chain costs motivated companies to pursue strategies such as lean manufacturing, offshoring, and outsourcing. Such cost-cutting measures mean that when there is a supply-chain disruption, manufacturing will stop quickly because of a lack of parts. The vast majority of global companies have no idea of what their risk exposure to what is going on in Asia is; that’s because few, if any, have complete knowledge of the locations of all the companies that provide parts to their direct suppliers.

ü Allocation of more money to states: States had been demanding more funds to fight the COVID -19 pandemic. They should increase the limit under ways and means Advances for States to avail short -term funds to 60 percent of the existing limit. This will help States to avail more funds to fight the COVID -19 pandemic and plan their borrowing in a better way even as they grapple with a crunch in their finances owning to stalled economic operation.

Apart from this, Some Key Policy Transforms can also be made:

Finance minister Mrs Nirmala Sitharaman on March 26 announced a stimulus package valued at approximately 0.8 percent of GDP. The key elements of the package are food, cooking gas, and cash transfers to lower-income households; insurance coverage for workers in the healthcare sector; and wage support to low- wage workers ( in some cases by easing the criteria for receiving benefits in the event of job loss).

But if we see the package in other countries are relatively higher than India as Japan introduced the package which is 21% of its GDP and package of Israel is 5.7% of its GDP.

Steps the government can take to mitigate the hit of the economy:-

The CMIE has calculated the unemployment rate from 22 March to 5 April—the period that witnessed a major impact of the lockdown on the labor force. The data showed that as of 5 April, the unemployment rate had spiked to 23.38 percent from 8.41 percent recorded on 22 March.

An increase in compensation for medical staff as well as health and safety inspectors, (ii) individuals under quarantine to receive sick leave benefits and sick leave pay to equal at least the minimum wage until the end of 2020; (iii) unemployment benefits to equal at least the minimum wage for three months, including for self-employed workers.

The countrywide lockdown announced is leading the Indian economy into troubled waters. As thousands of daily-wage laborers across the country stare at an uncertain future—with the lockdown bringing economic activity in India to a near-complete halt—their avenues for fruitful employment and job security look dim.

The government should assist companies and workers facing distress through the Unemployment insurance fund (UIF) and special programs from the Industrial Development Corporation. Additional funds should be made available for the health response to Covid-19, workers with an income below a certain threshold will receive a small tax subsidy during the next four months, and the most vulnerable families will receive temporarily higher social grant amounts for the next couple of months. Funds should be available to assist SMEs under stress, mainly in the tourism and hospitality sectors, and a small -scale farmers operating in the poultry, livestock and vegetables sectors.

Author: Mohit Mehra

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