Coronavirus in India: Social distancing still virtually absent

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Published: April 9, 2020 6:15:08 AM

It would be easy to blame the workers for refusing to adhere to instructions of the authorities, but it is also true that the messaging on the importance of quarantining and social distancing has gaps that are undermining the efforts.

 And yet, even as community infection is being suspected in some parts of India, sections of the public don’t seem to have understood how this is to be practised. And yet, even as community infection is being suspected in some parts of India, sections of the public don’t seem to have understood how this is to be practised. (Representative image)

The role of social distancing, and quarantining of high-risk individuals in stanching the spread of Covid-19 can’t be underscored enough. And yet, even as community infection is being suspected in some parts of India, sections of the public don’t seem to have understood how this is to be practised. In Bihar, Indian Express reports, many migrant labourers who had returned to their villages from states with high Covid-19 numbers were missing from the quarantine facilities where they were supposed to stay for 14 days—some were out working in the fields. Bear in mind, only a very few of the returning migrants could be accommodated in the temporary government facilities, the rest had been asked to quarantine themselves at home, making monitoring even more difficult. This paper carried a picture of women in Assam lined up within a few inches of each other outside a bank branch to withdraw money from their Jan Dhan accounts.

It would be easy to blame the workers for refusing to adhere to instructions of the authorities, but it is also true that the messaging on the importance of quarantining and social distancing has gaps that are undermining the efforts. The working class’s innate immunity against the virus, and other such misconceptions have not been addressed. The report on the Bihar situation also seems to suggest virtually absent monitoring. The Assam example shows the need to ensure door-step delivery, in this case, perhaps the need to revive and prep the banking correspondents network. Unless the government gets it right at its end, it will be hard to get people to do the right thing.

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