April 03, 2020
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Coronavirus Outbreak: Trying Times Such As This Will Test Our Nation's Character

This issue’s cover story is a tribute to the thousands of faceless men and women who are working tirelessly across the country and taking huge personal risks at the frontlines of the battle against the coronavirus.

Coronavirus Outbreak: Trying Times Such As This Will Test Our Nation's Character
Coronavirus Outbreak: Trying Times Such As This Will Test Our Nation's Character
outlookindia.com
2020-03-20T11:40:05+0530

Trying times test one’s character, and the grim situation unfolding over the COVID-19 pandemic will put on trial that of ours as a nation. Street-smart as we are—given our trademark pathological resilience and near-genetic affinity for jug­aad to extricate out of sticky spots—this crisis riding on a rampaging virus creeping up to our doorsteps will require more than our inherent guile to combat.

Of particular worry is our creaky healthcare infrastructure that seems hard-pres­sed to cope even at normal times. But COVID-19 has escalated the pressure on the system to an entirely new level. Countries such as the US, Italy and Spain are struggling to stem its spread. That some, including myself, have been panicking in the face of doomsday scenarios being freely dished out by friends and relatives is not entirely unexpected. Alarmed that a total lockdown is imminent, cutting ourselves from other cities, and consequently our near and dear ones, was a terrifying cause for concern. It’s a different matter though that I have somewhat regai­ned my composure since my dau­­ghter’s college in a faraway city annou­nced a break and she hastily returned home to hunker down together for the unknown.

ALSO READ: Goliath The Germ: Where Does India Stand In Humankind's War Against Corona

Somewhat unnerved, but not entirely drained of all sensibilities yet, I do admit that the most rational way of tackling what we are confronted with would be to take precautions and not unnecessarily panic. Like many other organisations, we at Outlook have also asked our staff to work from home to limit exposure. Soc­ial distancing is said to be the key to check the virus in its tracks. We are doing our bit. While we must do what we are required to do, including bringing out your favourite magazine, being both cautious and composed are undoubtedly the need of the hour.

Our response to the situation needs to be surefooted. True, many are questioning the limited testing facilities available currently for detecting infections. Quarantining possible carriers is also causing heartburn as it did this week when Indians returning from abroad were herded into shoddy government-run ad hoc facilities after an eight-hour wait without food or water at the Delhi airport. But mounting an operation to stop a pandemic is no small matter and we must rally behind our government at this critical moment, despite the customary slip-ups. Of course, we can dissect and debate at leisure what all should have been done, faster and better. For the moment, we must rep­ose our faith in those who rule us and continue to hope they are doing all that they can to keep us safe.

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The times we are in calls for grit, fortitude, and certainly gratitude. Above everyone else, we need to be thankful to the thousands of faceless men and women who are working tirelessly across the country and taking huge personal risks at the frontlines of the battle against the coronavirus.  Doctor Rakesh Saini has volunteered to screen passengers at Jaipur airport. Muzaffer Ahmad, a doctor from Kashmir’s Budgam, continues to treat patients armed with only a surgical mask. Mridula S. Sree is a young nurse attending to infected patients at Alleppey’s medical college without a break.

This issue’s cover story is a tribute to such bravehearts, including the doctor in Karnataka who got infected after treating the state’s first COVID-19 patient, and also those in less glamorous but critically important roles—such as the janitors cleaning and sanitising hospitals, isolation faci­lities, public spaces and transport. While I acknow­ledge them, I also owe a big thank you to my team of rep­orters and photographers who bravely travelled to profile these people working fearlessly and tirelessly. It is because of them, I say, Outlook is in safe hands.

ALSO READ

Meet The Corona Warriors: How Dr Rakesh Saini Is Up And Close With The Deadly COVID-19 In Jaipur

Meet The Corona Warriors: Mridula S. Sree, The Rookie Nurse Who Treated A Wuhan-Returned Patient In An Isolation Ward

Meet The Corona Warriors: Chandrakanta Sharma, Jaipur's Messenger Of Good Health

Meet The Corona Warriors: Lama Thupstan Chogyal, The Monk Who Keeps Ladakh's Heartbeat Throbbing

Meet The Corona Warriors: Captain Amitabh Singh, The Man Who Piloted Air-India's Mission Wuhan

Meet The Corona Warriors: From Handling Trauma Victims To COVID-19 Patients, Abdul Rehman Has Carried Them All

Meet The Corona Warriors: Muzaffer Ahmad, The Budgam Doctor Who Steadfastly 'Captures' COVID-19 Victims

Meet The Corona Warriors: Indra Gupta, The Sarkari Doctor Aspiring To Keep Jaipur In The Pink Of Health

In Pics: Life In The Time Of Coronavirus


Ruben Banerjee is Editor in Chief

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