Lockdown 4.0: Physical distancing norms go for a toss in Guwahati
Guwahati: The nation entered the fourth phase of lockdown, with Assam, recording a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases. EastMojo team went around Guwahati to find blatant disregard for all norms amid national lockdown over COVID-19 pandemic. This could spell trouble for the most populated metropolis in Assam.
Our first stop was the Uzan Bazar fish market around 6:15 am on Friday. This is one of the largest fish markets in the region where varieties of fish are brought from all over the state.
Here, we recorded no-physical distancing, few using face masks and those who did, they had their noses poking out of it. Buyers were clamouring over each other to get the best catch. Not just the fish, even people were stacked over each other. In the humid weather, buyers were forcing themselves through human walls to get to their favourite fish. Blatant disregard for physical distancing norms gave us the chills. This, we were told, happens every day, ever since the restrictions were lifted.
Our next stop was Fancy Bazar, the busiest market in Guwahati. Since the area was declared a containment zone it bears a different look. Deserted streets, shops closed, the scene is almost apocalyptic. The area was in stark contrast with Uzan Bazar.
This bustling part of Guwahati reported over 15 COVID-19 positive cases on May 13. The area around Hotel Rajkamal in Fancy Bazar is a containment zone now. All the new cases are related to a person who first tested positive here.
“No one is allowed inside the containment zone and no one is allowed to go in as well,” said Md Israr Khan, a CRPF official who along with his team patrols the place 24x7. These frontline workers have a duty to see all lockdown norms are followed.
Ironically, Uzan Bazar fish market is just 12 km from the containment zone, where residents are showing total disregard for physical distancing norms.
We then stopped at an ATM, took out our sanitizer and prepared to withdraw cash. This facility is one of the most frequented but there were no hand sanitizers provided for customers. A line of people came touched the same panels again and again with complete disregard for hygiene which is crucial to fight this pandemic. Only a few ATM's around the city had hand sanitizers or the basic facility for hand wash.
These are just a few examples of the blatant disregard of some simple norms during a pandemic lockdown.
To put a brake on the spread of this pandemic, three things have been globally accepted, physical distancing, using PPEs in the form of face masks, face shields, hand gloves and use of alcohol-based sanitizers. This has been reminded to us time and time again by healthcare officials, media etc but in Guwahati, very few seem to have taken it seriously.
As health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma rightfully said in his tweet, “We need to be extra careful,” all we need to do is to adhere to the three most basic and easiest principles to stop the further spread of the virus. It’s high time to think as a society of individuals and not just one individual in a society.