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Covid Situation In Delhi

By Nandini Sahu

I live in New Delhi, the capital city of India, with a population of 30,291,000.

I would rather introduce the subject, “Covid Situation in Delhi”, by talking about an incident that happened last week in my neighborhood. The daughter-in-law of the family, Sheela, received a phone call that her entire family, living two kilometers away, tested Covid positive. Sheela started crying and took her husband’s elder brother along to meet the Covid positive family. They met the family, held hands of the Corona patients, hugged and cried with them, and came back after a couple of hours, took a shower, and mingled with the entire family and roamed comfortably in their building. The daughter-in-law and her in laws never bothered to think that they were threatening the lives of everyone in the building by using the stairs, common areas; they never home-quarantined themselves.

This is how Covid has been spreading in the city, and most people of Delhi, especially those who call themselves ‘original Delhites’ in contrast to us, ‘outsiders’, are incorrigible. You just cannot share your views with them.

Thus, from 26 cases on 15th March to 97,894 on 19th September—it has been a challenging journey for Delhi.

Senior citizens and people who have underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease or hypertension have succumbed more to Covid. We have experienced mental fatigue due to wearing masks, but there has never been a more helpless situation. The opening of markets, the sudden rush, and the menace of a second wave of Covid, it has all been traumatic. Poor mask discipline has been one of the things that Delhi could have taken care of.

I am a law-abiding person, a responsible citizen. The other day I was coming back from my workplace,  sitting on the backseat of the car and the driver was driving, while both of us were in masks. I was wearing a Khadi, comfortable cotton  mask of skin colour, and was talking on my mobile phone on speaker mode, holding the mobile in front of my masked face. Three young, ill mannered police personnel stopped my car, and claimed that I wasn’t wearing a mask, and was talking over phone while eating something behind my phone. That was absurd!

I tried to explain that I would never do that; but they were adamant, and demanded a huge amount as fine for ‘not wearing’ mask, and claimed that I just wore it seeing the police. They added, if I wanted to argue more, I could go to the police station with them, which was a few kilometres away.

This is Delhi!! My son was alone at home, and it was already 7 pm; I was out since 9am. Due to Covid, my domestic help also has stopped coming, and I had to cook a dinner for my son. At that point, I saw a few passers-by without mask, and I showed that to the police. They said, “It’s not your business, you talk about yourself first, or let’s go to the police station, we’ll talk there.”

Then I showed them a cosy couple going without masks, the married woman visibly in vermillion and Mangalsutra. One police officer said, “Par who toh apni pati ke saath jaa rahi hei!”(she is with her husband!!)

So, this is my city, Delhi. After a bitter argument with the police officers, I chose to pay the amount and go home rather than going to the police station for a few more hours, for no use, as three men had ganged up against a woman. An empowered woman, that is!

Experts have repeatedly pointed out the sloppiness across the city when it comes to people wearing masks. While the police have started prosecution of masks inside cars, mask discipline and implementation remains an area where the Capital leaves a lot of scope for upgrading. Law abiding people are mostly victims.

 The city reopened, everything looks normal; as if Corona was never there!

“As per the … survey report, nearly two-thirds of the city’s population is still unexposed (thus susceptible to Covid-19).  And if you create opportunities for people to mingle, then it will increase the chances of transmission of the infection,” said Dr Lalit Kant, former head of epidemiology and communicable diseases at ICMR.

The list of guidelines by World Health Organization for control of Covid-19 has been the request to people to avoid going to crowded places. But this is far from the imagination for Delhi people—they are basically people who celebrate life, and party hard. Again, in my neighbourhood, late night movies, loud music, partying till 2am—everything is on. The rise in cases in Delhi has concurred with the reopening of city — workplaces, markets, malls, restaurants and hotels (in a survey, the majority were of the opinion that hotels should reopen first!).

Both central and Delhi State governments have been proactive in the testing. But the issue with Delhi’s testing has been the heavy reliance on antigen or rapid tests, which are not as reliable as the gold-standard RT-PCR tests. Also, there is statistical variation and leniency in the incubation periods. But the plus point is, there has not been major variation in daily cases.

Still, experts have warned that the recent spike in cases may be the start of Delhi’s second wave of infections. This is food for thought and it calls for serious cognizance at individual as well as social levels.

We just hope, good times will be back sooner than never, after the planet earth heals herself. These stories will remain with humanity forever, as testimony to the human saga of war with a great virus—a virus that is democratic to the true sense, leveling the rich and the poor.

Today we read Samuel Pepys’s Plague Diary; we read his ‘The Plague in London’ and ‘Great Fire of London’, and we are acquainted with some of the untold tales of human history. These tales give just one message—life goes on.


Professor Nandini Sahu, Director, School of Foreign Languages, IGNOU, New Delhi, India


Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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