Rajat Sharma

My appeal to all: Do not ignore Covid risks, wear masks, avoid crowded places

AKB3The national capital Delhi on Friday recorded the largest number of new Covid cases at 7,178, with 64 deaths reported in the last 24 hours. Delhi is now on top of the Covid tally across India pushing Kerala (7,002) to second position. While Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain has claimed that the surge in cases is due to what he called “aggressive contact tracing and testing”, the ground situation tells a different tale.

In my prime time show ‘Aaj Ki Baat’ on Friday night, we showed how huge crowds of Diwali shoppers are thronging the busy markets of Sadar Bazar, Chandni Chowk, Karol Bagh, Lajpat Nagar, Sarojini Nagar, Gandhi Nagar and Chawri Bazar. Many of the shoppers were not wearing masks and there was least social distancing. There was not even an inch of space on roads to move, with crowds thronging the markets. Most of the people appeared to be nonchalant and least concerned about Covid pandemic.

Watching visuals of Diwali shoppers in Delhi, one can hardly believe that this city has till now witnessed 6,833 Covid-related deaths and total number of Covid cases has touched 4.23 lakhs. Of course, 3.77 lakh people did recover, but looking at the crowds in Delhi’s busy markets, one can easily assume that the number of Covid cases is going to skyrocket in the next few weeks.

Already there is critical shortage of ICU beds for Covid patients in Delhi hospitals, and Delhi government has moved the Supreme Court to vacate the High Court order staying its decision to reserve 80 per cent ICU beds in 33 big private hospitals. There are 168 registered private hospitals in the capital, and Delhi government is in dire need of ICU beds to treat Covid patients.

India TV reporters on Friday visited Jhaveri Bazar and Dadar markets in Mumbai, where similar crowds of Diwali shoppers were noticed. Mumbai has recorded more than 2.60 lakh Covid cases till now, more than 10,000 people died due to the pandemic and yet the crowds in markets are least concerned about social distancing. Many of the shoppers India TV reporters spoke to, sheepishly admitted that they had forgotten to wear masks.

Crowds were also noticed on Friday in the busy markets of Ahmedabad, where more than 3,700 people have died of Covid till now. More than 1.75 lakh Covid cases have been detected in Ahmedabad till date, but people are taking grave risks to their lives by visiting these crowded markets.

In a different scenario in Jaipur, more than 17 lakh youths are to appear in exams for more than 5,000 police constable posts across Rajasthan. Since no bus arrangements were made to carry the candidates to 32 exam centres, huge crowds of youths descended on the bus stations in Jaipur, Ajmer, Kota and Alwar to catch buses. Social distancing was given a miss.

I have spoken to several experts on this issue. They attributed the rise in Covid cases in Delhi due to one major reason – “Corona fatigue”. People have become tired staying inside their homes for the last seven months, and they need a change. Secondly, many of the people roaming in public places do not wear masks, they simply hang the masks around their necks, which amounts to nothing.

The urge to buy before Diwali is there, but this appears only to be an excuse to get out of homes and loiter in public places. Several people are under the false notion that the Covid virus has now “weakened”. Many of them are under the impression that if they fall ill due to Covid, they would recover within four of five days. But they forget the basic fact that once they are infected with the virus, they would be unwittingly becoming “super spreaders” of the virus, infecting more and more people.

Most of the people who are old, infirm and suffering from lung and heart ailments, will face critical situation once they are infected by the virus. Moreover, people from UP, Bihar, Haryana, Rajasthan and other states visit Delhi in large numbers, unchecked, and many of them could be carriers of the virus. They would be unknowingly carrying the virus to their respective states too.

There is no gainsaying the fact that Covid virus is life threatening. The spread of the pandemic has not yet eased. No medicine has yet been invented to treat Covid. The vaccine is still several months away. The only method to protect oneself is to remain careful.

If people stop wearing masks and ignore social distancing in public places, the pandemic is sure to spread and there is no point in blaming the government. Such attitudes of crass negligence will surely harm people and their families, and the society at large.

People must understand that governments do not like to enforce unnecessary restrictions on movement, nobody wants another severe lockdown, but one must know that governments in the UK, France, Germany and several European countries have been forced to impose lockdown due to surge in Covid cases. In UK, lockdown has been imposed for a month, just ahead of Christmas and New Year festivities. The reason: people in these countries had been ignoring Covid protocol by refusing to wear masks and maintain social distancing.

I appeal to all of you with folded hands: please take care, be safe, stay at home, always wear masks in public places and maintain social distancing. Till the time most of the people are not vaccinated, every person has to take care, try to stay at home and avoid crowded places.

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