The deeper we go into lockdown that is yielding excellent results for India, the more I get worried about a typical human tendency that we all have and that is to procrastinate.
Lockdown is good, even great, but it is a trap. We have to step out of it one day, and thankfully, for a large part of India, we may be heading for the best possible opportunity to do that.
As I press on the “weather” icon on my phone, I see something that once looked dreadful but now I simply love it. Each of the next ten days (that it predicts for) Ahmadabad is likely to have 41 C plus temperature.
It is possible that WHO have had private access to coronavirus to experiment with in its secret lab that it is not telling the world about (as China told the world about the virus only in last winter) and hence is so sure that summer wont impact its spread, but all other biologists will confirm that the zone beyond 40 degree Centigrade (104 F) is not exactly a comfort zone for proteins that run biological systems ranging from whales to viruses. If you recollect, all of us are told by doctors that if fever reaches 104 F we should rush to the hospital, and that too is for the same reason. It starts hampering biological processes
So, if coronavirus has not come from paralvinella sulfincola, a unique worm that specialises in living around the hydrothermal volcanic vents in the sea or is built carefully in a lab using some genetic tricks (worth a Nobel Prize), it is surely not going to do well once the great India summer starts making hot for it.
If virus doesn’t possess aforementioned unique and almost miraculous qualities, all its activities ranging from how airborne particles will perform to how long it will remain infectious on a surface will be adversely impacted by heat, especially when the temperature moves past 40 C.
Let us also grasp that when the weatherman tells us that it is 40 degrees, he is NOT talking about the temperature of a surface that is in sunlight. We measure and list our temperatures based on how hot the air has become, so our 40 C is temperature “in shade”, while the actual temperature of a surface facing sunlight can reach 50 C and beyond that very few life-forms can survive for long.
As far as I can see, barring WHO, not too many people will disagree that, however infectious coronavirus is, in the hottest part of the day in a city where temperatures are going past 40 C, there would be a very low possibility that it can be transmitted between people, especially if people carry on with social distancing, hand-washing and more importantly wearing simple home-made masks that cover their faces (that are also advice-against by WHO). If possible, the idea of wearing glasses, or anything that cover the eyes is added to this, it look reasonably safe for people to gradually come out of lockdown.
The idea that I propose is simple.
Open lockdown in the cities where weather is pushing mercury past 40 C and do it during the afternoon hours. We can start with a 11 AM to 4 PM day and see the situation unfolds.
In addition to the time, if all offices are forced not to use air-conditioners and use fans instead while keeping all the doors and windows open, it should be a very safe way to start getting back on course.
We need to restart as soon as possible and there can be no better opportunity that our summer.
The reason why our tropical nation with all its unhygienic-looking (to western eyes) habits from open defecation to spitting is still surviving is that we have a God in from of Surya-dev on duty to disinfect every nook and corner of our nation.
Let us seek his blessings and restart under his purifying gaze.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.