A virus outbreak has taken over the world.
Thousands of sources are sharing millions of updates regarding the pandemic. Majority of them are similar and most similar ones are seemed most trustworthy, regardless of underlying assumptions and presumptions.
For example: Shutting down transport and isolating people can break the infection chain.
How logical is this?
We built amazing networking tools like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn that allows people to meet people they never thought existed or needed to meet. Networking effects of virtual world always surprised me. With one click, you can get in touch with the CEO of a company based in foreign land, not only that, system would suggest 5 more people with similar profiles, businesses and interests. Real world networking seemed very limited compared to virtual networking. Virus outbreak has changed that, we managed to teach machines to connect strangers with overlapping networks, and we do not know who we meet and may get infected by.
A kid from a nearby area from my home has been identified as COVID-19 positive. He was picked up by cops and doctors 3 days ago. This news was delivered home to home by a young lady who sells vegetables. Her job takes her through several streets of the city everyday. She claims to have seen the kid being picked up by cops and doctors. She claims to have sold vegetables to his mom the same day. This is the part where we get alarmed.
- What are the chances that the kid’s mom is infected?
- What are the chances that lady selling vegetables is infected?
- What are the chances that she delivered the news and infection at the same time?
- What are the chances that infection has reached several streets, homes and families of the city in a day?
- What are the chances that she continues to sell vegetables during cool-down hours (4-6 PM) during nationwide shutdown?
- What are the chances that nationwide shutdown could have prevented this?
Answer to most of the questions above is : 100% except the last question. Probability of stopping such spread by nationwide shutdown is 0%, why? Because this shit happened on the first day of nationwide shutdown!
A nationwide shutdown sounds like a good idea to isolate individuals and stop infection chain. How productive and logical is it though?
Delhi has been the city with highest number of foreign travelers (1,749,594) in the month of January 2020. Shutdown rendered thousands of labors unpaid, starving and homeless overnight. This led to an irony: A nationwide shutdown mobilized thousands of people from one of the epicenters to less impacted areas and states. How did we miss this?
We did not ignore the possibility of jeopardizing the livelihood of people working on daily wages. We did not see it at all. As a country, we have always been reactive than proactive. Being reactive is not limited to India, historically, mankind has been reactive, from Hastinapur to Rome.
Isolation and shutdown is not logical because it’s the reaction to the outbreak. It would have been effective as proactive reaction. Look at China, the shutdown started in January throughout China, not just Wuhan. They were proactive to save the economy and lives. They dealt with a situation like this 17 years ago, with SARS outbreak in 2002, and learnt from it. India had it’s own outbreaks and medical emergencies, Nipah Virus outbreak in Kerala (2018) and Brain Fever (Encephalitis) in Bihar (2019). We didn’t learn a damn thing, because it had no severe impact on powerful people, this time around, we have powerful people with their asses on fire in Delhi and Mumbai, and hence million solutions to one problem.
Anyways, coming back to logical viability of nationwide shutdown. I fail to understand the planning, execution and expected outcome of it all.
I started working from home, and so did my team. Working from home sucks on so many levels that there’s no doubt about existential crisis for businesses.
I find working from home ‘too comfortable to focus’. There’s a striking difference between peers and parents. Adjusting to work in an environment where you are offered food every other hour and a news tip every hour will take time. This is new to me, I failed to plan for this.
All of my team members are working from home. Or I’d say we all are trying and at times struggling to work from home. Internet connectivity is the biggest problem. Many of us have broadband connection and many are dependent on mobile internet hotspots. Connectivity and bandwidth is not of same quality for all, meaning everyone has an app for a conference call, but not everyone is able to use it properly.
Then there is discipline, capability of working without oversight. This is the time I realize that not everyone sees the goal with as much as clarity as myself. Everyone sees the goal with varying degree of clarity. This becomes clear when they are left to work on their own to achieve the shared goal. I feel grateful to have a team that sees the goal with maximum clarity. I need to work on establishing more transparency regarding the end-goals.
In a nutshell, we are severely lacking the infrastructure and culture to rely on a workforce that can work remotely and responsibly at the same time.
Working from home is slowing down businesses. This slowdown will result into reduced revenues and lowered to none income for thousands of businesses and individuals. The other day I was stopped on the way to my office and was asked to go back home by cops. I was just few feet away from my office, I pointed to the building and requested the officer ‘I need to be there for today, to get my things and see if others have things they need to work from home for coming days’. Being an efficient Indian Cop, his response was hostile and included shoving me away with a stick like an animal. For a moment, I this question popped in my mind ‘Your actions will result in me and my team not paying taxes. If that happens, how the fuck do you think the government is going to pay you for your five star services I just received?’. I didn’t articulate the thought, because I don’t pay a lot of tax. If and when this scenario becomes relevant for a lot of people like me, maybe someone will ask this on behalf of everyone affected. Policing is a subject in itself, but more on that later.
So what’s the solution? If national shutdown is a wrong reaction to stop the infection chain, what could be the right reaction?
I don’t know, but this might work.
Infection is proving to be fatal for older adults. This is something most of us agree on by now. Infection has less chances of young fatalities. Young people are mostly carriers and rarely victims. This is also something most of us agree on. (If you don’t, stop reading and accept my humble ‘Fuck You’ for being an ignorant ass)
If there is a way to protect, isolate and if needed imprison older adults, that will decrease fatalities. Infection in younger can be recovered and that fact dramatically reduces the panic.
If you live with an older adult, they are your responsibility, allocate them a separate room, stay away from them, do not share things with them, keep their surrounding sanitized. If they are working, force-retire them or ask them to work from home. If they are physically or emotionally dependent, wheel-chair bound or immovable, setup facilities to take care of them.
In short, start taking care of your older adults as you were supposed to in the first place as a family member, as a society and as a care taker.
Next in-line for isolation are people with weak immunity and kids, these are far less in numbers than older adults. Hence, easier to manage.
This seems more difficult than nationwide shutdown, why? Because they are older adults! A generation that is happy and habitual to give advise, not to take advise from idiots equipped with smart gadgets!
Outcome of this activity may prove more effective than present situation (At present, I see police in more suffering than patients).
Hope you get to read this Mr. Prime Minister (Ouch, you’re an older adult too!)