I heard this concept for the first time from my dear friend, who, has been managing the COVID war room for the Government for the last 6 months, no doubt a very stressful job.
I was on a phone conversation with him earlier last evening. I wanted to learn more about his experience, and kept him going in the conversation so he could explain it to me in detail.
He began with the story of the very beginning of the nCOVID19 virus, and the first time we started to hear about it, possibly sometime in late January 2019. At that time most of us read about it or heard about it on Television. Most of us had passed it off as yet another news item.
Later we started to hear about its outbreak in the Wuhan province, and the massive spread, and fatalities. However, we were told by WHO, that “Human to Human” spread was unlikely with this virus. So while all of us felt sad and empathised with the victims of the outbreak in China, it was still “distant” in our minds.
And the next thing you know it spread to Italy, and other parts of Europe. Still a feeling it being”distant”, but was a mystery, and the beginning of our curiosity, media scrutiny, Speculations. The Question everybody was asking :how the Virus had jumped to Italy and the neighbouring countries of Europe, and then we all eventually found out that there was a lot of trade and travel happening between Wuhan and Italy, we could connect the two dots. The curiosity shifted to asking “Why so many fatalities” in Italy, and why is there a rapid rate of infection in that part of the world. The number of infections, the vivid visuals of patients being reeled into hospitals and intensive care, with the background of the Ambulances screaming. This started our understanding of how infectious the nCOVID virus is, and its serious implications on life and “livelihoods”
We now got busy tracking the nCOVID19 phenomena, what China was saying about it, essentially denying most theories and evidences that pointed to the Wuhan Labs. The virus spread to USA, and New York was hit badly amongst many other locations in US. The President of the US started to call it “The China” virus, and there is anger in the rest of the world, possibly barring North Korea and Pakistan.
As we waited with bated breadth India announced its first COVID positive case, and traced it to overseas travel. And then as the number of infections started to increase, India went into a complete lockdown, with some impact in blunting the Rate of growth of infections, and fatality rates. India started Evacuation flights to bring back its citizens who were stuck in many of the badly hit countries. As they started to come back in, the growth in the infections stepped up.
The migrant labor crisis started around the same time. Opposition parties making a lot of noise, and the media showing the inhuman conditions, and the ordeal that the migrant labor force was going through. Mostly labourers, who had come to bigger cities, in search of jobs, living in inhuman conditions, and barely making a living for themselves and their families. We cannot easily forge the visuals of them walking back with their children and their meagre belongings. And then hurriedly commissioned buses filled with people with no Masks, No social distancing to transform them to their villages, so at least they get a better chance to fend for themselves. So the Virus had arrived big time in India.
Even as I am writing this piece, I hear the sounds and noise of carpentry work in progress at a couple houses that are being built periliously close to our compound wall. So much for Zoning laws in this country. I know that there at least 100-150 workers from Rajasthan having camped in the area. They have not stopped working right through the Lockdown period, and through the current COVID times.
And then the media was full of COVID stories, some times sensationalising it, but looking at it pragmatically, preparing us for what was to come. We started to look at the numbers, and the locations more carefully. I live in a small city called Mysore, which about a three hour drive from Bangalore.
Soon Bangalore outbreak happened, and surprisingly Mysore still had Zero Active cases two months ago. Mysore is a popular tourist destination, but with tourists traveling, the floating population in Mysore was very small. All modes of transport to Mysore from different connected cities were blocked during Lock down.
As Unlock1.0 started to get implemented, all borders were opened, public transport Buses and Trains started to operate, city commute is near normal. We heard about the first outbreak in Mysore. At that time tracking and tracing was still working. But we took some relief in knowing that they were mostly in parts of cities on the periphery.
Next thing we know many households in the neighbourhood had caught the infection. Covid was now at our doorstep.
Finally after several weeks of isolation, taking all precautions, our home staff and a couple of family members tested positive.
After nearly 9-10 months from the time the nCOVID virus was made, or was born at Wuhan (presumably in December of last year), the pandemic hit us too.
My story of the “Pandemic Spiral”.