Novel Coronavirus, more specifically, the Covid-19 has engulfed the entire world pretty gigantically. People have been advised to adopt social distancing and self-quarantine, as early as possible. Office-goers have been told to work from home.
But what about the daily wager, who has to earn daily to feed himself and his family? What about the fruit seller or the vegetable seller? People aren’t buying from them. What will happen to their fruits and vegetables? How do we expect a daily wager, a ‘mazdoor’ to work from home? What are they going to eat, how will they feed their children? Even the cab or auto-rickshaw drivers have been hit badly, no passengers, no money. Street eateries stand find no eaters either.
“I pay 400 rupees as rent for this auto-rickshaw, and around 150 for gas used in it every day. Now, I’m barely making 300–400 rupees a day. But I cannot stay at home. I have to get out to earn to be able to feed my children,” said Ajay Pal while showing the notes he had earned that day.
But the danger looms larger than just reduced earning. These people are also perhaps the ones, most vulnerable, for they surely must not be in a position to buy sanitizers or keep washing their hands regularly.
Also, the public modes of transport such as the Mumbai Local or the Delhi metro, which are no less than lifelines to these metropolitan cities, can serve as hotspots for the spread of the deadly virus. In a Mumbai Local, which carries around 7.5 million commuters daily, one affected person can potentially infect millions of others.
So far, the cases are limited to those who, at some point in time, had been to a foreign country or those who had somehow come in contact with the affected. But there is no guarantee that this wouldn’t spread to the poorer sections of the society, crowded conditions in poorer localities can lead to faster transmission of the disease, and once that happens, things would be even more dangerous.
A video of migrant workers in Iran has surfaced on social media in which hundreds of Indian labourers, adorning white masks and trapped in Iran’s worst virus hit area of Ardestan in Isfahan Province, can be seen appealing to the government of India to take them back home. Most of them are from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Maharashtra.
Uttar Pradesh government’s decision to financially help the daily wagers is a welcome step and similar steps need be taken by other state governments.
“Pandemic”, as has the Covid-19 been called by the WHO, is a situation when an epidemic (a sudden increase in the number of cases of a disease, more than typically expected) spreads over several countries and continents, affecting a large number of people. So far, 2,79,320 cases of Coronavirus infection have been reported world over. About 92,906 have recovered, and 11,586 have died across countries.
In India, as of March 21st, 271 people have been tested positive of the virus and four have faced death. All the four dead, were above the age of 60 and had an concomitant medical condition.
The world is at a verge of severe economic slowdown owing to the pandemic in the coming days. Countries like India, with a population too big, should definitely speed up the number of testings, for only that can save us from what could otherwise be disastrous for the country.