The nationwide coronavirus lockdown, the biggest in the world, has been extended until at least 3rdMay 2020, as per the announcement by the Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi today. Although the restrictions in areas further away from infection hotspots might be eased to help those who are dependent on daily wages, there will be close monitoring undertaken in all areas. Based on this, further decisions will be taken.
India has so far reported more than 10,000 Covid-19 cases and 339 deaths. However, there are fears of the numbers skyrocketing, leading to additional pressure on the existing shaky healthcare systems. This is one of the major reasons for the extension of this lockdown apart from curbing the number of new cases as well. Even the WHO has warned against rushing into lifting restrictions since it might lead to further spread of the infection. The Prime Minister also said that India gained from timely measures of social distancing and lockdown and is in a much stable position in comparison to several powerful countries of the world. The weeks ahead are critical and will tell whether India will see an exponential rise in infections or begin to flatten the curve.
Let us also understand the significance and meaning of quarantine, which comes from quarantena, meaning "forty days". The word was used in the 14th-15th-century Venetian language, designating the period that all ships were required to be isolated before passengers and crew could go ashore during the Black Death plague epidemic. This followed the trentino, or thirty-day isolation period, which was first imposed in 1377 in the Republic of Ragusa, Dalmatia (modern Dubrovnik in Croatia). This is different from medical isolation, which means those confirmed to be infected with a communicable disease are isolated from the healthy population.
The 40-days period has a religious significance as well as mentioned below.
• Jesus Christ spent 40 days in desert as intense tapas
• Buddha fasted for 40 days and nights in the wilderness
• Prophet Muhammed fasted for 40 days in a cave
• Muslims fast and pray for 40 days during the Ramzan period.
• Christians fast and pray during the 40-day Lent season, before Good Friday and Easter.
• The devotees of Swami Ayyappa visit Sabarimala in Kerala after observing strict 40 days fasting.
• In Hinduism, the fasting of 40 days is called One 'Mandal kal'.... Kal means a period and Mandal kal means a period of 40 days.
• The Sindhi Hindu community commemorates a festival of thanks to God called Chaliha Sahib. It lasts for 40 days.
• Zoroastrians have a 40-day formula for having prayers answered. It is known as the “Chalisa” or the 40 Day Ritual.
• Guru Nanak spent 40 days with a Sufi saint in Nahoria Bazar, Sirsa. He undertook a Chilla / Chalisa (40 days spent worshipping God) at TillaJogian, near Bhera Pakistan
• In Hanuman Chalisa, the word chalisa is 'chalis' meaning 40. It contains 40 stanzas and devotees of Hanumanji recites these 40 stanzas for 40 days.
• Mulla Husayn (of Bahai Faith) spent 40 days fasting and praying before leaving Karbala.
Recipient of Padma Shri, Vishwa Hindi Samman, National Science Communication Award and Dr B C Roy National Award, Dr Aggarwal is a physician, cardiologist, spiritual writer and motivational speaker. He is the Past President of the Indian Medical Association and President of Heart Care Foundation of India. He is also the Editor in Chief of the IJCP Group, Medtalks and eMediNexus