Race against time? No, race against corona!

Race against time? No, race against corona!
Photo Credit: Talk Sikkim

If one looks at the COVID-19 scenario in the hills of Darjeeling and Sikkim, it feels like the pandemic doesn’t exist and people only practice a few sanitation routines. Despite many having lost their lives and suffered long weeks of isolation due to the virus, both places hosted a series of events from the start of fall. 

Darjeeling hosted a giant marathon with celebrities like Milind Somand and Kailash Kher which drew in massive crowds. The event was organised by the Darjeeling Police to spread awareness on zero waste and to send a positive message among the people in the hills. Thousands took part in the event.

Official records of West Bengal shows that 119 people were tested positive with COVID-19, where one person died due to the virus in the District of Darjeeling taking the total number of prevailing cases to 786. Kalimpong recorded 11 new cases. The total number of people with active cases in Kalimpong district is 44.

Sikkim wasn’t far behind. ‘Run Against COVID’, a marathon organized by the Sports Wing of Sikkim Krantikari Morcha was kicked off at MG Marg on the 13 of December 2020. It was a 15km run from MG marg to Bakthang falls. Similar to Darjeeling, the event saw the attendance of thousands of locals, participants and politicians. The aim of the run was to spread awareness among people about the ongoing pandemic. 

The big question that arose was whether it was a wise decision to host an event in these regions? 

Looking at the pictures and videos of both the event, it was apparent that people did not practise social distancing and though people were wearing masks and sanitising, the risk of getting infected was still high. 

The pandemic has prevented everyone from socialising like before and left the world isolated for months, keeping away physical proximity which remains a fundamental human need for many. One could say that the event brought people together for a brief while but the possibility of being scarred with long term psychological impact of the pandemic lingers long after it’s over. The paradox lies in physical social distancing. 

While social distancing is currently of utmost importance, it also hinders the human need to have physical contact. People have been subjected to maintain social distancing, which, if you look at it is absurd as people have already gotten over the pandemic’s initial scare since some normalcy had to return and people began using public transport, visiting shops, bars and restaurants.

If that wasn’t the case then the economy would have crashed by now.

But again, several Netizens and patients who had caught the virus were disappointed that such huge tourism and sports events were organized. Their argument was on the lines of - if you wanted to exercise and be fit, you could do it at home or just separately from others. 

One cannot point fingers and blame one person or organization for these events. Granted, the world has sort of returned to its pre-COVID routine but the threat looms over everyone’s heads. Leaving behind healthy and young people, there are several groups at high risk from severe effects of the virus. So what now?

It is up to each one of us to utilise the little freedom we have to be responsible. Proper precautionary measures like wearing masks/gloves and the regular use of sanitisers and knowing that the pandemic is still at large. Social gatherings can be hosted if people are cautious. The fight with COVID-19 has been an exhausting one. This could be a chance to evolve, grow and persevere as humans always have, collectively and individually. 

By Druhin Subba

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