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A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF SARS, HIV AND A LESSON TO LEARN FOR COVID-19

INTRODUCTION

The lesson to learn must be to emancipate the health inequalities, the HIV transmission enhanced among mobile and well-connected networks but the blame and burden have been shifted to poor people, countries, or marginalized groups who fall prey to the non- marginalized groups.

Achal Nath, NLU Jodhpur, 19 August, 2020 11:17 pm IST

The SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) crisis which hit the East Asian countries in 2003, and brought severe threats to weaker economies has taught the world that we can catch the crabs only during the low tide, quoting Winston Churchill, “Never let the good crisis go to waste”. The crisis hit the countries rapidly prompting the World Health Organization (WHO) to affirm it “a world health threat”, this epidemic was not only a public health issue, but indeed a severe socio-political crisis for China.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and National Executive Committee (NEA) has issued guidelines to the Union Government and the States, to take measures and follow the guidelines amidst the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, the lockdowns are regulated under the Disaster Management Act of 2005, intended, “ to provide for the effective management of disasters and the matters connected therewith or incidental thereto”.

The quick measure against the pandemic and to stop its further spread among the population, was to curb the right to free movement implied in the case of Union of India and Ors. v. Sukumar Sengupta & Ors. and implement the lockdown policy. The state authorities came up with more specifications to the guidelines by implementing the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897, which provided stricter rules of ‘public isolation’ and ‘strict home quarantine’.

WHAT SARS HAS TAUGHT US

While the SARS epidemic has tested the crucial questions of public health infrastructure of nations, and the political structure in continuation with their ability to address any epidemic outbreak in the future, it also teaches the change in lifestyle perceptibility to the world.

The crisis pales in contrast to the existing Covid-19 epidemic, in terms of its spread and impact over the world. SARS epidemic infected around 8,096 people in 29 countries, with reported 774 deaths. Data accordingly to the WHO is comparatively lower while comparing the SARS epidemic and Covid-19 epidemic, but the people and government in East Asia out of their siesta did not let go of the SARS crisis to desecrate.

As far, the WHO global surveillance for SARS has recommended in its report, the epidemic cases were distinguished into few forms, i.e. preliminary positive cases, probable cases, confirmed cases, unverifiable cases.

Also Read: DISASTER MANAGEMENT ACT POSES THREAT TO INDIAN DEMOCRACY

The spreading of the epidemic was protracted by limited information sharing, though in early 2000 the reporting system and the surveillance system were outdated and some countries did not have the method of surveillance. The SARS outbreak brought the East Asian countries to a standstill, which forced the countries to review their disease control policies and in some cases the complete system in terms of health emergencies and epidemics

Innovations and strategies have been adopted by the governments not only reinforced the legal system but also disease prevention and control, the investments in medical sectors and the development of infrastructure are one of the visible expansions, the SARS epidemic spread into two different patterns as indicated in the spatiotemporal analysis as compared to the COVID-19 epidemic in present. In the early stages, the epidemic spreads into new areas by the carrier through travels and other contacts through such cases were in its early stages where strict control measures such as isolation and quarantine were not present, therefore transmission through human travel influenced the transmission of the epidemics.  

Lifestyles detectably changed in countries like Japan, China, Hong Kong, Korea and Taiwan, the face coverings and use of masks in public places has become a norm now and such has been practiced even after the epidemic is over.

HIV LESSONS FOR COVID-19

An article in Indian Express described how India has earlier demonstrated health-related response which created a blueprint to tackle health-related issues widely, though such fundamentals may have been forgotten but need to be brushed to tackle the present widespread global pandemic.

The HIV pandemic provides world lessons to respond against the coronavirus or COVID 19; the vaccines and the pharmaceuticals for both the pandemics have not been manufactured till date, in present the middle-income and low-income countries medical infrastructures have been tested and criticized equally, such sectors were not in the top list priority of the government for growth and expertise before the pandemic broke, and soon after the pandemic the entire system has rather been exposed. 

The lesson to learn must be to emancipate the health inequalities, the HIV transmission enhanced among mobile and well-connected networks but the blame and burden have been shifted to poorer people, countries, or marginalized groups who fall prey to the non- marginalized groups. Millions of people globally have died because of HIV, primarily because they were unable to access the lifesaving antiretrovirals, and the same has been monitored and seen in COVID-19 pandemic, the government policies must priorities the innovations for the individuals in great need today.

PREVENTIVE MEASURES AND REGULATIONS BY THE GOVERNMENT IN COVID-19

The coronavirus outbreak has been impacting every aspect of life, in addition to affecting global health it has also caused an outbreak to the economic system of the countries. The government has been answering since the epidemic breaks all over the world to the questions regarding unemployment, the business law, and protecting privacy after the launch of the Arogya Setu application for its citizens.

The Arogya Setu is a contact tracking application developed by the National Informatics Centre of the Indian Government, intending to track the interactions with people who could have tested positive for COVID-19, through the Bluetooth and location enabling software generating the social graphs.  The application also provides a test where the people have to answer certain questions relating to the symptom of COVID-19, it also alerts if one has come into proximity of a person tested positive.

Certain questions are still being raised about the app that centers around the right to privacy, though the Centre government has denied the vulnerability of the Arogya Setu to privacy and data breach issues. The first instance of legal debate about whether privacy is a fundamental right, in the case of M.P. Sharma v. Satish Chandra, where the court held that the right to privacy shall not be considered as a fundamental right.In the recent judgment of K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India, it was held that right to privacy is a fundamental right and shall not lose its status among the golden trinity of the Indian constitution; i.e., (Article14, 19, 21).

The social distancing must be a lesson and shall become a norm and regular habit, the reason behind such ideology is when a new virus breaks into our systems there must be a self-imposed social distancing to break the chain. India must evolve a mechanism to maintain hygiene and Swachh Bharat mission should be a norm for every citizen. The need to promote the Drug and Vaccination program and investment in the health sector, India cannot rest on laurels since the number of cases has reached above 1 million, it needs to further strengthen the health sector by speed tracking vaccines and drugs.

The Atmanirbhar Investments scheme launched by the Central Government announces Rs. 20 lakh crore stimulus package to save the lockdown battered economy, the scheme emphases the tax breaks as well as incentives for small businesses and domestic manufacturers. It is clear as crystal that the lockdown will go on for months, the biggest worry to date remains that a large number of people will be pushed towards unemployment, poverty, or in some cases starvation. The government must reassure that the primary needs and requirements shall be taken care of and provided with the minimum well-being.

CONCLUSION

“Whenever a country has fallen into crisis, the people have sprung up in rage”.

Across the nation there are efforts to build a database for people’s health records to enable easier treatment, the government must address the concerns openly. India enjoys good relations with multiple powers across the globe and stands well regarded among developing nations.

With long-term economic prospects ahead of the decades, India is confident about the capability to absorb the shocks of pandemics and striding forth to engage a world riven by trade wars and border disputes. Despite the hardship, India must establish in bringing the world together to practice multilateralism that stands as a common interest of humanity. 

In terms of the economy real reforms must accompany in the financial and health sector, finally, if the virus has taught the world anything, it’s the criticality of social structure. India can only alter its potential growth if investments are made in crucial sectors like health and education, the existing assets on the public sector balance sheet must be monetized.

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