Rajat Sharma

My Opinion

How rumours triggered movement of thousands of migrant workers from Delhi

akb3010India TV in its show ‘Aaj Ki Baat’ on Friday night telecasted visuals of thousands of migrant workers from Delhi walking on National Highway near Ghazipur UP border. They were in a hurry to reach their homes.

The most disturbing aspect about these migrant workers is that there was no social distancing, all walking in groups, with their families. They could easily pass on the dreaded Coronavirus. Thousands of migrant workers from UP, Bihar and Jharkhand work in Delhi-NCR, and with the lockdown about to complete one week, these workers, without any work and pay, decided to walk to their native places.

UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath on Friday spoke to his officers and asked them to arrange for ferrying these migrant workers. He also spoke to the chief ministers of Maharashtra, Haryana and Uttarakhand, where a large number of migrant workers from UP live, and requested them to arrange for their food and accomodation. He promised that the UP government would reimburse their expenses.

There were reports that rumour mongering on WhatsApp played a major role in the sudden movement of these migrant workers. Rumours were circulated that buses were available at Anand Vihar, Lal Kuan and other places, which turned out to be fake. By that time, thousands of workers, with their families, were out on the road, walking. Both Delhi and UP governments have admitted that these workers left their homes because of rumours spread on WhatsApp.

Workers who had made up their minds to stay at home during the 21-day lockdown also fell prey to these rumours. They thought that since buses were available, they could go to their native places with their families.

It is easy for armchair experts to say that the government should have arranged buses to ferry these workers, in the same way that it deployed planes to bring in Indians from foreign countries. The number of Indians brought in planes was limited and utmost precaution was taken to ensure that the virus is not spread.

What can be done with thousands of workers cramming inside buses? Is social distancing possible? Will it not multiply the spread of the virus to unimaginable proportions, with people carrying this virus to their villages and infecting others?

In a country of 1.3 billion people, a lockdown of this magnitude will necessarily bring woes to thousands of people. Lockdown and social distancing were are not by choice. There is no other option to counter the spread of this dreaded virus.

It goes to the credit of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath that he has instructed his officers to ensure that the main purpose of lockdown is not defeated. At the same time, he had told his officers to ensure that these migrant workers are housed and fed in temples, gurudwaras and dharamshalas till the lockdown period is over. Yogi has said that the poor workers were his brethren, they must be given food and accomodation, but they must also follow the lockdown guidelines so that the pandemic does not spread.

Let me tell you, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is working day and night to ensure that this lockdown is successful. Exemptions are being given where it is essential. He is in touch with all state governments. UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath is tackling the situation and his efforts should be praised. Most of the people in India are following lockdown guidelines and are staying inside their homes. They are scrupulously observing what Modi called the ”laxman rekha’ of their doorstep.

But there are others, who are gullible, who easily fall prey to baseless rumours. They may be facing hardships but they are risking their lives and the lives of others because of a false sense of bravado. They need to be stopped. Forget thousands, the mistake by a single person can put hundreds and thousands of lives at risk. The mistake committed by a few can harm 1.3 billion people.

I again appeal to all of you: Stay home, stay safe. If you have problems, contact your local police and authorities, they are there to help.

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Relief package for the poor was prepared much before lockdown was enforced

akb3010The announcement of Rs 1.7 lakh crore worth massive relief package by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been welcomed by all political parties as a timely step to provide relief to poor women, farmers, workers, senior citizens, physically challenged and other sections of society. The aim is to shield the poor during the lockdown period.

Eighty crore poor people will be given an additional 5 kg wheat or rice and one kg pulses for the next three months under Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Ann Yojana. Rs 50 lakh insurance cover will be given to every healthcare worker for next three months. They include doctors, nurses, paramedics, ward boys and safai karmacharis working in hospitals.

Rs 2,000 will be transferred to the accounts of 8.69 crore farmers under Kisan Samman Nidhi in the first week of April. Wages under MGNREGA have been raised for the next three months. Nearly three crore senior citizens, widows and divyangs (disabled) will get Rs 1000 in two instalments over the next three months. 20 crore women having Jan Dhan bank accounts will get Rs 500 each per month for the next three months.

Below Poverty Level families will get free LPG cylinders under Ujjwala scheme for three months. Centre will contribute both employers’ and employees contribution in Employees Provident Fund for the next three months.

People who are well aware of the working style of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi know that the relief package was not prepared in a hurry. It will be not be correct to say that the lockdown was enforced in a hurry and our PM decided on relief measures to help the poor affected by the lockdown.

The relief package was planned meticulously taking inputs from various ministries and with full preparations. In reality, Modi analyzed the relief steps taken by other big countries, spoke to chief ministers, calculated the food stocks position, decided to go in for 21-day lockdown and followed it up with the announcement of this relief package.

There is no way out for India from this pandemic without enforcing a nationwide lockdown. If we have to save ourselves and our children, lockdown is a must. The Centre, state government and different agencies are doing their jobs, people by and large are staying in homes during lockdown but there are people who are deliberately defying lockdown and putting themselves and the community at risk.

Those violating the lockdown need to be handled with a stern hand. Some people have made it a rule that they won’t follow any rule. We can’t afford this in this hour of crisis. It’s an emergency not only for us but for the whole world. Those who refuse to see the danger, are putting millions of people at risk. They must be made to stay at home. We don’t have another option.

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Why Modi chose March 25 for enforcing nationwide 21-day lockdown

akb3010March 25 was Day 1 of 21-day nationwide lockdown. In most of the places, people stayed in their homes, except for some places in Gujarat, Delhi, Mumbai and UP, where police had to act sternly and FIRs were lodged against offenders. Those who are still not aware of the threat that is looming over all of us, should now be cautious.

The Prime Minister has appealed in whatever way he could, by folding his hands, and by explaining to all the necessity of social distancing and staying at home. Please understand: there is no cure for Coronavirus. If you are infected, you will put your life, the lives of your family members and your neighbours at risk. Stay at home. Coronavirus does not differentiate between the rich and the poor, it can strike anybody.

People are dying in large numbers in Italy, USA and Iran. These countries made the mistake of ignoring social distancing and did not enforce lockdown at the right time. We do not want this pandemic to spread widely in India. God forbid, if it happenes, we may be seeing dead bodies on the roadside. Our government has enforced lockdown at the right time and we should strictly adhere to guidelines and stay at home. Please, for God’s sake, discharge your duty as a responsible citizen.

Please try to understand why our PM chose this time for lockdown.

March 25 was the first day of Navratri, Gudi Padwa, Ram Navami is on April 2, Mahavir Jayanti on April 6, Good Friday on April 10, Ambedkar Jayanti on April 14,. Five holidays, with three Saturdays and three Sundays thrown in betwteen. Eleven holidays in all out a total of 21 days. It is Modi’s shrewd timing that he announced the lockdown at a time when people will face less difficulties. Millions of people observe fast during Navratras. So the choice of dates for lockdown was made carefully.

I have been in the field of journalism for 37 years. I have seen from close range, many Prime Ministers working in times of crisis. The manner in which Prime Minister Modi has handled this global pandemic is praiseworthy. He deserves our fullest support in this hour of national crisis.

At a time when world leaders are at their wits’ end on how to deal with the pandemic, Modi first tested the waters through Janata Curfew and then announced complete lockdown by gaining the confidence and support of the people. The world has never seen such a massive exercise in as big as a country like India. It is our good fortune that the nation’s leadership is in the able hands of Narendra Modi.

On one hand, he is keeping a close watch on how big nations are tackling the pandemic, analyzing solutions, and on the other hand, he is supervising micro-level implementation of healthcare measures and lockdown in our war against Coronavirus. Let us make this 21-day lockdown a resounding success.

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Stay in homes for 21 days, let us defeat this Coronavirus monster

AKB2610The entire nation has watched the Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealing to all of us with folded hands not to step out of our homes for the next 21 days, i.e. till April 14. This nationwide lockdown has been enforced since last midnight. All of us should extend our fullest support to the Prime Minister. We must not cross, what the PM called, the ‘laxman rekha’ of our doorstep.

The PM cautioned that if we failed to observe 21 days’ lockdown, the horrible consequences will push the nation 21 years back in time. He also advised people not to self-medicate if they observe virus symptoms. He asked people to refrain from believing rumours and superstitions.

The PM promised that more testing facilities, personal protective equipments, isolation beds, ICU beds and ventilators will be provided to health care institutions on a priority basis. Rs 15,000 crore will be spent to tone up our health infrastructure.

While calling for patience and discipline, the PM said that our actions during these 21 days will decide the full effect of this global pandemic in India.

Late in the night, in response to reports about panic buying by some people in several cities, the PM, in a tweet, told people not to panic. He assured that essential commodities will be made available to people. The Centre and state governments have prepared guidelines to provide essential commodities to people.

Now that you have all heard what the PM said, it is my appeal to you again, with folded hands, to stay in your homes to break the chain of this deadly pandemic. I know it will be a difficult task for the next 21 days, but there is no other option. I know your jobs, your business will be affected, but saving your life and the lives of your near and dear ones is of paramount importance.

If we make mistakes and defy lockdowns, the consequences will be terrible. The death toll will mount rapidly and there will be hardly anybody left to collect the bodies from the roadside. So let us rule out that dreaded possibility right now by staying in our homes and break this deadly chain.

Some people are raising questions about why this action was taken late. This is not the right time for blame game. Do not forget, it was our Prime Minister who gauged the threat from the beginning, and in a measured manner, he took a series of steps, first to bring in stranded Indians and at the same time, to tone up our health infrastructure. These steps were taken at the right time. The government has done, and is doing a lot, but the question is: what are the people doing? They must observe lockdowns and stay at homes for their own survival.

Think of those doctors, nurses, paramedical staff, policemen, media persons, reporters who are out toiling day and night, away from their families. Can we not at least stay in our homes for the next 21 days and face this big challenge with discipline and fortitude?

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For God’s sake, please do not defy lockdowns

akb0712I write this with anger and sadness. Anger because educated people in cars crowded the Delhi-Noida flyway on Monday morning despite knowing that both the Delhi and Noida authorities had clamped lockdown in entire National Capital Region. Sad because India TV showed visuals of passengers at Patna bus junction crammed inside buses and sitting on rooftops, most of them with family members. All of them were in a hurry to leave for their villages after clamping of lockdown in Bihar.

It is really astonishing that despite appeals from the Prime Minister and Chief Ministers and constant warnings being printed and telecasted through media, some people openly defied lockdown on Monday. Car owners not only jammed the DND flyway but also argued with policemen manning the checkposts who were telling them that only those working for essential services are allowed to come out on the roads.

How can one make people understand that there is no proven cure available for Coronavirus? Only social distancing and lockdowns can prevent the spread of this deadly disease, which till Tuesday morning had crossed the 16,000 mark across the world. India TV showed visuals of overcrowding on buses and flyways on Monday, because we wanted to caution the people. Think about your wife, children and family members, whom you leave at home and go out to defy lockdown.

It is because of these violators that the authorities in Delhi and other states have taken a tough stance. Curfew has been declared in several places and only those holding passes will be allowed to come out. Delhi Police Commissioner has asked police to impound and challan vehicles that come out on roads without valid passes.

Think for a moment: if Parliament, Supreme Court, High Courts, lower courts, flights, buses and train services can be closed in the interest of the people, defying lockdown should not be taken as a joke. My earnest appeal to all is, stay home, stay safe, you and your family will remain safe. We must not commit the same mistakes that countries like Italy, France and Spain committed by delaying lockdowns. Look at the casualty figures in those countries.

India is on the threshold of Stage 3 (community at risk). God forbid, if India enters Stage 3, population in cities, villages and towns will fall prey to this deadly disease. World Health Organisation has praised our Prime Minister for adopting the social distancing strategy in time, because our healthcare system has limited resources and if thousands are found positive, it will be difficult to handle all cases.

While speaking to news broadcasters on Monday, the Prime Minister spoke about a lady doctor who told AIIMS director “I am treating patients of Coronavirus fearlessly, but I have old parents at home,if something happens to me please taken care of them” The Prime Minister had tears in his eyes when he narrated this.

We should think about our doctors, nurses and health care workers. They are doing their utmost to save lives. Let us think about them. The Prime Minister is working round-the-clock. It is our duty to listen to his words. He is not seeking much from you. Stay in your homes for at least a week or two, so that the spread of the virus can be halted.

At least do this for yourself, your family, your community and your country. This country has given you so much and expects you a little bit of cooperation in return. If you do not follow rules, God forbid, the government will have to follow China, which used strong arm methods to lock in millions of people in Wuhan and other cities. So please stay home, stay safe. Let’s sit at home to save our nation.

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Tell everybody that ‘curfew’ also means ‘care for you’

AKB2103 On Friday night in my show Aaj Ki Baat, I showed the video of a Coronavirus female patient speaking from her ICU bed and imploring all not to take this deadly virus lightly. She was fighting for her life and there were tubes attached to her body to help her breathe. There were rashes on her face and she was repeatedly coughing.

All of us in India should hear what the lady is saying. She is saying, she was hale and hearty a few days ago, but when the virus struck her, she ignored the telltale symptoms and mixed with her friends. The lady is telling the world never to ignore virus symptoms in the initial stage and refrain from hiding one’s problems from health care authorities. The good part of the story is that she was in a serious condition 10 days ago and she is now recovering.

Our government is trying its best to ensure that India does not enter Stage 3 (community at risk), but due to negligence or callousness or sheer effrontery, some people who have been tested positive are spreading the virus.

One of the latest examples is that of Bollywood singer Kanika Kapoor, who returned from London on March 8, met her parents and stayed in a hotel in Lucknow, where she attended Holi and other parties attended by politicians, industrialists and celebrities. She had ignored the advice of airport authorities to stay in self-quarantine.

Kanika has now been put in isolation ward of Lucknow’s KGMU and the state police has filed an FIR against her for negligence. She was suffering from fever during the parties, but did not disclose this fact. The parties were attended among others by former Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje and her son BJP MP Dushyant Singh, BSP leader Akbar Ahmed Dumpy, Congress leader Jitin Prasad and the UP Health Minister.

Kanika’s family members have also been quarantined. The singer said she had flu symptoms four days back and during test, she was found Corona positive. The room in which she stayed in the hotel has been sanitized and sealed, and her parent’s residence has been sanitized.

The story does not end here. BJP MP Dushyant Singh attended Parliament on Thursday and mixed with several MPs including Nishikant Dubey and Manoj Tiwari. Trinamool MP Derek O’Brien sat near him during the meeting of Standing Committee on Transport. Derek and several other leaders have now opted for self-quarantine.

All those who came in contact with Kanika Kapoor, whether Vasundhara or her son Dushyant, cannot be held accountable, because they did not know that the singer had Coronavirus symptoms. The pertinent question being raised is: why such parties were allowed in the first place at a time when ‘social distancing’ message is being given to the people to stop the spread of Coronavirus.

This virus is very cruel. It does not distinguish between people who come in contact, whether knowingly or unknowingly. Extreme caution is the key. People must avoid parties and dining in restaurants, but some people try to flout these guidelines. It is not ‘Herogiri’, it is suicidal. The most surprising part is that a well educated girl like Kanika knowingly flouted these norms and mixed with people.

One person’s mistake can spread the virus among 10 others, and the ten others may spread it to 100 or 1,000 people without the chain being broken. This is how a pandemic occurs. Think about the unimaginable losses it brings in its wake.

I appeal to everybody to watch the Prime Minister’s address to the nation again carefully, and follow the norms scrupulously. Also please spread this message among all. Tell them that ‘curfew’ also means ‘care for you’.

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How PM neither concealed, nor underplayed, but showed the way to deal with Coronavirus threat

1 In his address to the nation on Thursday night, Prime Minister Narendra Modi neither concealed nor underplayed the enormity of the Coronavirus pandemic that has engulfed the entire globe. At the same time, he did not try to scare the public, but chose to explain and showed the way to deal with this threat.

I fully support his appeal for ‘Janata Curfew’ on Sunday (March 22) from 7 am till 9 pm throughout India. I appeal to all of you to join hands and enforce ‘Janata Curfew’. This will send a strong message to the world at large that India is determined to fight this menace unitedly.

The Prime Minister himself said, “This will, in a way, be a litmus test for us, to see how prepared India is to fight off this global pandemic”.

He also called on people to express gratitude to the doctors, nurses, paramedics, municipal staff, police and airport workers, by going to their balconies and windows at 5 pm on Sunday and express their support by clapping, banging plates and ringing bells. “They are the protectors of the nation”, he said.

In a nutshell, let me list 9 salient points from his speech: 1. Be alert and do not move out of your home unless it is essential 2. Those whose age is more than 60-65 years must stay at home as they are vulnerable. 3. Adhere to Janata Curfew on Sunday 4. Express gratitude to health workers, municipal workers, police and other essential staff on Sunday at 5 pm 5. Avoid going to hospitals unless it is essential. 6. Covid-19 economic task force formed to suggest fiscal measures 7. Businessmen requested not to deduct salaries of their staff 8. Stop panic buying as nation has enough stocks of food and essential goods 9. Do not believe in rumours and exercise restraint.

Never in the past had any Prime Minister gone to the people seeking their cooperation in combating a health threat of this magnitude. Modi patiently explained the magnitude of the threat and gave advice on how to deal with this menace.

The two words which he emphasized repeatedly were “sanyam” (restraint) and “sankalp” (determination). Remember, coronavirus hits large number of people suddenly. Let us not be complacent while thinking it may not hit us with the same magnitude with which it hit other countries.

Finally, do not trust rumours and fake claims. On Wednesday, there was a fake message circulating on social media attributing to National Security Council that a prolonged lockdown will take place. Thousands of people believed this and there was panic buying in several metros. The government had to issue clarification saying the circular was fake.

Similarly, do not trust claims by babas and self-proclaimed healers that drinking cow urine, camel urine, boiling peepal leaf in oil, eating tulsi, neem leaves, drinking water mixed with honey, ginger and lemon will protect one from this virus. These claims are not scientifically proven. Practising social distancing and following Health Ministry’s guidelines are the keys to tackle this global scourge.

While thanking our health workers on Sunday evening, we should also thank our Prime Minister who took timely action through proper planning to stop this virus from spreading in India. He truly deserves our salute.

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How callousness and flouting of guidelines can hamper our fight against Coronavirus

akb Today I want to share with you some instances of how Indians returning from abroad are trying to evade quarantine and are deliberately putting themselves and others at risk from the deadly Coronavirus. The first video relates to a group of Indian passengers returning from abroad and creating ugly scenes at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, when they were asked by airport and health care staff to go into quarantine.

These passengers not only protested but shouted slogans at security guards saying “Shoot Us, Kill Us”. Civil Aviation Minister Hardip Puri clarified that the incident took place a few days ago when compulsory quarantine for all incoming travellers from outside India was ordered. Puri said, the situation has now normalized. Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, on Wednesday midnight went to Delhi airport to personally check quarantine facilities.

It is now time to change our mindset. Passengers all over the world are being subjected to health checks at airports. In airports across the globe, in London, New York, Beijing, Chicago and Texas, travellers silently stand in queues waiting for their turn for health check and quarantine. There was no point in creating a ruckus at the Delhi airport.

India has done phenomenally well in curbing the spread of Coronavirus in communities, because of timely action taken by our Prime Minister Narendra Modi. World Health Organization has appreciated the efforts of our government. Coronavirus has spread in India only because of negligence and callousness on part of some Indians who came from abroad but jumped the quarantine, and mixed with others.

In Palghar, Maharashtra, passengers of Garib Rath Express, on Wednesday noticed four Indians having self-quarantine stamps on their arms. Railway authorities promptly deboarded them and they were taken to the district hospital for quarantine. These four persons had come from Germany and were going to Surat.

In another instance of callousness, the mother of a teenager, who had returned from UK and was tested positive for Coronavirus, came to the secretariat and met the Home Secretary, triggering a rush to identify all the people she came in contact with, including security personnel. The mother is a joint secretary level officer.

The Home Secretary, his wife, who happens to be the Vice-Chancellor of Calcutta University, 20 members of the staff were sent to 14 days’ self-quarantine. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee expressed her unhappiness over this serious lapse. The entire secretariat had to be sanitized. Banerjee said, there would be no discrimination on the basis of VIP or LIP (Less Important Person).

Extreme caution is the need of the hour. We must stop the Coronavirus from spreading. Everybody, whether he or she has come from abroad, or anybody who has come in contact with persons having virus symptoms must undergo 14 days’ self-quarantine and submit for tests.

The government is making all out efforts to stop the spread of the virus. Private firms have been given the nod to carry out Coronavirus tests and private hospitals have been asked to keep isolation wards ready. Almost all famous religious shrines, tourist spots like the Taj Mahal and Qutab Minar, schools, colleges, universities, hostels, cinema halls have been closed. This is the time for all of us to cooperate in our collective war against Coronavirus. Let India become a model for other countries to follow.

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Never conceal your travel history from doctors in cases of Coronavirus

akb1408 Concealing facts about one’s travel history can lead to serious consequences for Coronavirus victims. The third Coronavirus death that took place in India on Tuesday was in Mumbai, where a 64-year-old man, who had returned from Dubai was being treated.

The most disturbing aspect was that this patient never told his doctors that he had returned this month from Dubai. According to Maharashtra health department sources, when he had returned from Dubai 12 days ago, he had no virus symptoms for two days, but later he had breathing problems. He was taken to a private hospital, where he concealed his travel history from doctors.

The doctors gave him respiratory treatment but when his condition deteriorated he was sent to a government hospital for Coronavirus test, but by that time, it was too late. He passed away on Tuesday.

India TV reporter Sachin Chaudhary collected details about this man. He was part of a group of 40 persons who had returned from Dubai on March 5. The man had returned with his wife and son, and took a taxi to Ghatkopar. Authorities are now trying to trace the persons who came in close contact with him for medical surveillance.

The moral of the lesson is: never conceal your travel history from doctors, and do not run away from quarantine. By doing that, you would be unknowingly putting others at risk.

According to guidelines issued by Health Ministry, people who have returned from Corona-hit countries in the last 14 days, must put themselves in home quarantine for the next 14 days.

Similarly, those who have come in close contact with people who had returned from abroad must also impose home quarantine for the next 14 days in order to stop the spreading of virus. One has to follow strict procedure while staying in home quarantine. Stay in strict isolation in your room and keep close contacts with your family members to the minimum. If you have symptoms of cough, breathing problems and high fever, get a Coronavirus test done. If there are no such symptoms, there is no need to get a test done.

I may also add that all those who have common cold or breathing problems need not go for a test. Only those who have returned from China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, France, Spain, Germany, UAE, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait are required to get the test done. They are at risk of contracting Coronavirus, hence priority is being given to them for carrying out test.

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Social distancing is a must for combating Coronavirus

AKB2610There is not an iota of doubt that timely steps taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi contributed a lot in containing the spread of deadly Coronavirus across India in recent weeks. The Prime Minister himself monitored the evolving situation and the Prime Minister’s Office coordinated all efforts to prevent the spread of the virus.

Steps were taken at lightning speed to bring back Indians from Wuhan, Iran and other places. Quarantine centres were set up in and around Delhi, and now the state governments are ready with their own quarantine centres. A network of virus testing centres was activated and measures to close down shops, shrines, national parks, cinema halls and shopping malls were taken to prevent the spread of the virus.

Though there is a general sense of relief, the oncoming challenge is a huge one and the risks are deadly. All of us will have to cooperate with the Centre and state governments to stop the spread of the virus.

On Monday, India TV reporters from Maharashtra filed reports on how Coronavirus suspects fled from hospitals in Panvel, Navi Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur causing more risks to those who have not been affected. Extreme caution is the need of the hour and we cannot afford Coronavirus suspects to move around.

Let me tell you how other countries dealt with similar situations. When the Coronavirus originated from China, the countries that were on the radar were Singapore, Hong Kong (autonomous part of China), Taiwan, Japan, North and South Korea, and Thailand, because mostly people of Chinese origin travel to these places. These countries had already experienced the fallout of the 2003 SARS epidemic and they knew what precautions to take. They immediately clamped lockdowns and ensured social distancing to stop the spread of Coronavirus.

In faraway Italy, the warning was not heeded in time, and within a matter of two weeks, the number of Coronavirus cases jumped from 300 to 10,000. The deaths were mainly due to delay in testing the patients and thousands of people did not even know that they had been infected. The point to note is that the virus spread to Italy and South Korea almost at the same time, but the Koreans conducted massive tests and checking and controlled the spread of the virus.

In India too, we conducted checks on all incoming travellers and quarantined all those who showed initial symptoms. Our authorities traced the travel history and contacts of those whose cases were found positive. That is why we in India can at least heave a sigh of relief for the time being, but the threat in the coming weeks is still looming.

My appeal to all of you is: please do not run away from hospitals, if you or your friends or relatives show symptoms of the virus. By fleeing hospitals, you would be putting more people at risk. The next two weeks are vital. If one is put in isolation, he or she should remain so and avoid mixing with others. That is how we can save ourselves, our family members, and in a larger sense, our society.

On precautions, I have spoken to a number of doctors and their first advice was: Avoid travel, whether domestic or international, by air or by train or by bus. Travel is the biggest carrier of this virus.

Secondly, avoid going to places where more than 10 to 50 or 100 people congregate in a closed space. The virus can spread there easily. These places could be temples, mosques, shrines, shopping malls, weekly markets, departmental stores, popular tourist spots, sporting events, bars and clubs, and political or social gatherings that include weddings.

If we can exercise self-restraint on these lines, we would be fortunate enough to avoid the virus, but do not for a moment think that there is no use only isolating myself. Do not be under the false impression that the severe heat of Indian summer beginning next month will save people from this virus.

Also, do not be under the false impression that since we are Indians and have different lifestyles and food habits, we can save ourselves. Do not think we are Bahubalis and can counter this virus threat easily. Social distancing is a must and a slight mistake on our part can not only endanger ourselves but can also pose a big risk to others in society.

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Let us all collectively fight the Coronavirus threat

akb Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in two tweets on consecutive days complained that “the government is not taking this (Coronavirus) threat seriously” and that “The Indian economy will be destroyed if strong action is not taken”.

Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan responded to this by posting on Twitter the audio of his telephonic talk with Rajasthan Health Minister Raghu Sharma, where the latter was heard saying that he was fully satisfied with the steps taken by the Centre.

Dr Harsh Vardhan commented: “India has pulled out all full stops as far as action on COVID19 goes! Nation stands together in critical health emergency #CoronavirusPandemic but @RahulGandhi ji continues to play petty politics & demoralize people. Check our video I’m talking to Raj Health Min Dr Raghu Sharma.”

Several senior political leaders have reacted to Rahul’s tweets raising questions about his maturity level. I think most of the political leaders harbour similar views about Rahul Gandhi, and this is neither good for his image, his party nor for our democracy.

On Coronavirus scare, I would like to appeal to all not to react in panic but exercise precautions. People must not listen to baseless rumours being spread on social media, and if they have doubts, they should contact NCDC (National Centre for Disease Control) Control Room on 011-23978046. They can get correct and authentic updates from this control room.

I will again like to repeat: this virus spreads very fast and through close contact. Try to avoid touching your nose, face and mouth frequently, wash your hands with soap frequently and avoid crowded places. Wear mask, and if not available, tie a handkerchief over your nose and mouth, and stay away from people who cough frequently. These precautions are adequate to avoid the deadly virus.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in two tweets on consecutive days complained that “the government is not taking this (Coronavirus) threat seriously” and that “The Indian economy will be destroyed if strong action is not taken”.

Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan responded to this by posting on Twitter the audio of his telephonic talk with Rajasthan Health Minister Raghu Sharma, where the latter was heard saying that he was fully satisfied with the steps taken by the Centre.

Dr Harsh Vardhan commented: “India has pulled out all full stops as far as action on COVID19 goes! Nation stands together in critical health emergency #CoronavirusPandemic but @RahulGandhi ji continues to play petty politics & demoralize people. Check our video I’m talking to Raj Health Min Dr Raghu Sharma.”

Several senior political leaders have reacted to Rahul’s tweets raising questions about his maturity level. I think most of the political leaders harbour similar views about Rahul Gandhi, and this is neither good for his image, his party nor for our democracy.

On Coronavirus scare, I would like to appeal to all not to react in panic but exercise precautions. People must not listen to baseless rumours being spread on social media, and if they have doubts, they should contact NCDC (National Centre for Disease Control) Control Room on 011-23978046. They can get correct and authentic updates from this control room.

I will again like to repeat: this virus spreads very fast and through close contact. Try to avoid touching your nose, face and mouth frequently, wash your hands with soap frequently and avoid crowded places. Wear mask, and if not available, tie a handkerchief over your nose and mouth, and stay away from people who cough frequently. These precautions are adequate to avoid the deadly virus.

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Take stringent action against those recycling masks, making fake sanitizers

AKB1411As stock markets crashed across the world, including India, after the World Health Organization declared Coronoavirus a pandemic affecting 118 countries, there is some good news: scientists in Israel have achieved a breakthrough in understanding the biological mechanism and qualities of the virus and are on the verge of inventing a vaccine. The development process involves a series of tests and it may take several months for carrying out tests and trials.

In India, the first Coronavirus death was reported from Karnataka, where a 76-year-old man with a travel history to Saudi Arabia, died due to this virus. Delhi government ordered closing of all schools, colleges and cinema halls till March 31. So far, 80 confirmed cases have been reported across India.

In the midst of this worldwide scare, some unscrupulous people have tried to make a killing in the market by recycling used masks and manufacturing fake sanitizers. They were taking advantage of rampant profiteering that is going on in the sale of masks and sanitizers.

I got a video of recycled masks being made on my WhatsApp on Thursday. On getting it checked through our reporter, we found that these were seized by police in Bhiwandi, Maharashtra. The local police have arrested one Imran, who claimed that he was asked by one Amit Thakker to dispose of these recycled masks by throwing them away on the roadside. According to Imran, Amit Thakker, who used to deal in electronics, had started recycling used masks on a large scale, and had been selling 50,000 to one lakh masks daily. When the video of this shady business went viral, he asked Imran to dispose them of and that was when the police stepped in.

In Manesar, near Haryana’s Gurugram, fake sanitizers were being made in a factory that used to make car lubricants. Blue coloured chemical filled in tubs, were being packed into bottles labelled as ‘Viro’ sanitizers. The Food and Drugs department raided the factory and seized nearly 5,000 bottles.

Similarly, in Srinagar, drug inspectors raided and seized more than 50 litres of fake sanitizers being prepared with thinner, glycerine, water and lemon flavour.

People who indulge in such nefarious activities are enemies of society, and they should be given the most stringent punishment at a time when the entire world is striving to fight the deadly coronavirus. These people are committing a sin. I have sent details of such raids to the higher authorities and I expect the government to take exemplary measures against those who are playing with people’s lives.

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