New Delhi: Despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare repeatedly requesting people to wear masks and maintain social distancing, most people across the country seem to have forgotten that the Covid-19 pandemic is far from over.
The Sunday Guardian visited multiple marketplaces and shopping centres across the national capital only to find that the norms of social distancing have gone for a toss in most of these places and some people are not even wearing their masks and some who are wearing masks are not wearing them properly, in turn risking theirs and other people’s lives.
The busy shopping centre of Connaught Place was bustling with people on a Wednesday evening and many outlets which flashed enormous discounts in their outlets had crowds inside their stores with no social distancing protocols being followed at all.
This correspondent spoke to one of the shopping outlets in Connaught Place which was crowded with people trying to get their hands on the best discounted products.
One of the sales persons in that outlet said, “Social distancing markers are placed here, but people are not following what we can do. We are in any case not allowing people without masks and temperature checks inside the outlet; what else can we do.”
The Sunday Guardian also visited the busy computer and IT hardware market in South Delhi’s Nehru Place; the situation was worse there. The market is full of crowds throughout most of the day and surprisingly, hardly any of the shopkeepers in this market was seen wearing even a mask, leave alone maintaining social distancing.
Most of the shops here are small and tiny shops which have over five to six people jostling with each other to either get their laptops repaired or lay their hands on a nice deal with a second-hand laptop. Many of these small shops also sell IT and computer accessories and were seen busy attending to their customers without a mask on their face, which has been made mandatory by the Government of India.
When questions were posed to several shopkeepers here on why no social distancing is being followed or masks not being worn by the shop owners, all of them almost equivocally said, “This corona is not that serious; you see so many people are recovering, nothing will happen. This issue is being ballooned by the government for no reason.”
The situation was similar in the markets in South Delhi’s Chittaranjan Park and Lajpat Nagar. People have almost forgotten that Covid-19 is a serious disease and have taken away more than one lakh lives in India in the last seven months.
Similar scenes of no mask wearing and no social distancing were also witnessed across markets in Central Delhi’s Karol Bagh, Panchkuian Road furniture market and Jhandewalan Toy and cycle market.
The Panchkuian Road Furniture market and the Jhandewalan Toy and Cycle market is, in fact, a closed market and according to doctors and epidemiologists, the risk of spread of the Covid-19 infection in such closed and crowded areas are much higher than that of open spaces, but despite this, most seemed to be not adhering to the norms and protocols laid down by the government.
Not only the national capital, even in poll-bound states like Bihar and West Bengal, Covid-19 protocols have been thrown out of the window with massive political rallies being organised around the state and most people not wearing masks and maintaining social distancing norms.
As on Friday, India’s total Covid-19 tally stood at a little less than seven million positive cases. However, the recovery rate in India has been phenomenal and the current recovery rate stands at somewhere around a little more than 75%. The daily increase in the number of total Covid-19 positive cases has also reduced in the last few days and the present active cases stand below the one million mark in India.
However, doctors and epidemiologists have issued a word of caution about the upcoming festive season which could perhaps be a problem as people are likely to mingle around more and the spread of the infection is also likely to pick up once again during the same period.