Covid-19: What you need to know today

Hindustan Times (Jalandhar) - - HTSPOTLIGH­T - R Suku­mar

June 20. There’s no break­ing it gen­tly; things are get­ting worse around the world in terms of the spread of the coro­n­avirus disease.

Sure, the disease isn’t the mys­tery it once was; ev­ery pass­ing day in­creases our knowl­edge of the Sars-CoV-2 virus and the Covid-19 disease, and while we may still not have a cure, we have a fairly good idea of which medicines and lines of treat­ment work and which don’t (and there’s new in­for­ma­tion al­most ev­ery other day). There’s a gen­eral agree­ment around the world that doc­tors have be­come bet­ter at sav­ing lives.

But the disease is rag­ing though the world. Num­bers from three dif­fer­ent sources tell the same story.

Ac­cord­ing to data on worl­dome­ters. info, 42% of the cur­rent cases in the world (close to 8.7 mil­lion on June 19) have been recorded in the past month (since May 20).

Ac­cord­ing to The New York Times data­base, 177,225 new cases (a record high) were reg­is­tered around the world on June 19.

Ac­cord­ing to the dash­board main­tained by the Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity, the five-day mov­ing av­er­age is trend­ing up­ward in eight of the 10 coun­tries that are cur­rently see­ing the most num­ber of cases. These are: Brazil, US, In­dia, Mex­ico, Peru, Chile, Pak­istan, and Iran. The two where it isn’t are Rus­sia and the UK. Five-day mov­ing av­er­ages even out kinks caused by events such as coun­tries sud­denly de­cid­ing to change the way they re­port cases or spikes caused by back-dated re­port­ing. (That’s an­other thing that has changed from the past — we have all taught our­selves how to read sci­en­tific papers and re­newed our ac­quain­tance with sta­tis­tics).

In­dia isn’t bucking the trend (as clear by its pres­ence among the eight coun­tries whose five-day mov­ing av­er­age is trend­ing north).

In­dia added 14,677 new cases on June 19, the high­est to date (this col­umn is be­ing writ­ten on Saturday morn­ing) in a 24-hour pe­riod. The coun­try has added 72% of its to­tal cases (till June 19) in the month since May 20. That is al­most three of ev­ery four cases. With pos­i­tiv­ity rates con­tin­u­ing to rise, or, at best, stay­ing the same in many states, In­dia’s num­bers are cer­tain to in­crease with more wide­spread test­ing (which prob­a­bly ex­plains why some states are go­ing slow on tests in a dis­play of ex­tremely mis­placed pri­or­i­ties).

Glob­ally, too, the con­sen­sus is that the num­ber of cases will con­tinue to rise as coun­tries open up, or the virus shows up in hith­erto un­in­fected or less-in­fected parts. The New York Times re­ports that four Amer­i­can states, Ari­zona, Florida, Ok­la­homa, and South Carolina touched their high­est daily counts (of new cases) this week.

This can be tir­ing.

For al­most 68 days un­til June 1, In­dia was locked down. While many re­stric­tions have been eased since, sub­ur­ban trains, met­ros, and buses (in some states) re­main off the roads; many peo­ple con­tinue work­ing from home; parks are open only for a few hours; and shop­ping for most peo­ple in­volves a mask-glovesshow­er-wipe rou­tine that is as time con­sum­ing as it is weary­ing. Restaurant­s are open, and go­ing to one poses a def­i­nite risk, as does vis­it­ing a mall (and these are also open), but peo­ple are bored of eat­ing at home (or or­der­ing out). And Zoom par­ties, once the rage — as a Delhi res­i­dent, es­pe­cially, I can un­der­stand why; it’s eas­ier to get peo­ple to leave — are now as in­ter­est­ing as the weekly busi­ness re­view.

So, bored, tired, lonely per­haps, and phys­i­cally, men­tally, and emo­tion­ally weary, we let things slip. And the virus wins.

The re­ally sick and the old (and the in­firm) may need med­i­cal care to beat the virus; the rest of us just need stamina to out­last it.

As John L Parker JR wrote in the best book about run­ning that’s ever been writ­ten: “You don’t be­come a run­ner by win­ning a morn­ing work­out.”

That frag­ment is from a longer para­graph that ends with the phrases: “The Trial of Miles; Miles of Tri­als.”

That’s how it feels.

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