Strict enforcement of Covid-19 protocols best way to deal with the pandemic: ASSOCHAM

New Delhi: Strict enforcement of protocols like social distancing, mask-wearing and proper sanitation are the best tools to deal with Covid-19 and measures like imposing lockdown, night curfew and curbs on movement of people and services, may not be the best way forward as it might have implications on economy, ASSOCHAM Secretary General Mr Deepak Sood has said.

“Traversing through Covid-19 challenge in the last one year has taught us that the economic activities can be best performed with unrestricted movement of people and services, but with enforcement of guidelines on social distancing, wearing of masks and ensuring adequate sanitation at workplaces,” Mr Sood said.

The coronavirus has extracted unprecedented costs in terms of human lives and the crushing impact on the global economy. “However, India has grappled with the situation with prudent response from the governments – Centre, states and the businesses. We have limited the impact of the pandemic. Our economy has bounced back from a sharp drop of close to 24 per cent in the first quarter of the FY2020-21 to a positive trend in the third quarter. The 4th quarter is likely to be better than the previous quarter and the economy has almost returned to pre-covid level. Even the services sectors like domestic tourism, aviation, public transport have been bouncing back well,” the ASSOCHAM Secretary General added.

He further said that recent increase in coronavirus cases is no doubt a matter of grave concern. However, using the experience of the last one year, enforcement of behaviour guidelines would be the best way forward. “Enforcement, along with aggressive testing and vaccination would allow us to be on top of the situation,” Mr Sood said.

Stating that Indian economy is poised at a very delicate stage, he said it is ready to bounce back further which can happen only if prudent measures are adopted, without stringent measures like lockdowns.

After all, we have witnessed domestic flights returning to their capacity while hotels are operating at far better occupancy levels than the previous quarters. Industries like tractors, passenger cars, fertilisers, chemicals, speciality chemicals, pharmaceuticals, FMCG, cement, steel, copper etc are operating at the pre-covid level or even higher than that level.

The vaccine roll out is in full stream. Almost 20 lakhs a day inoculation is helping the country build shield against the virus. The Indian pharmaceutical industry has built a large development and manufacturing capacity for vaccines – In the coming few weeks and months more vaccines should be available.

However, the covid fatigue has set in and that is something to watch out for. Of late, there has been an increase in cases in states like Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi. “We need to enforce the covid appropriate behaviour because we cannot afford a fresh wave of the pandemic.”

Mr Sood said, “While we cannot lower our guard, focus needs to be on prevention and inoculation.”

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