Today, all of you must have seen the photographs on television and in the dailies, in which passengers in Patna and Kolkata were eager to go to their villages by chilling in buses and even adjusting them on bus roofs, quite unconcerned about the fatality that could be caused due to their such attitude. Even as someone giving warning, one imprudent passenger lashes out shamelessly, saying, “kya karen, majboori ka naam mahatma gandhi hai.”
The fact, however, is that by describing his so called “majboori”, he is not only putting his entire village in danger, but also the entire population. It can only be said that if they are going to their villages with this deadly disease, then only God can save them. In this regard, Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan has also admitted that till now there are about 1,84,000 people infected with the Karona epidemic, which are under the surveillance of the government. However, this is the figure, the minister said, that is in government’s knowledge. So, what about the rest which is still beyond its knowledge? Who will guess and how will they be monitored? It can be ten times, as much as eighteen lakhs, or even double.
The gravity of the situation is if the poor labourers and temporary workers, who flee from Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru or Gujarat in panic to Purvanchal and reached their villages with infection, what is the facility available for the treatment of this epidemic in the villages is well known.
When cities like Delhi are running under severe shortage of ventilators, to think of adequate treatment for Corona like diseases in the remote villages of Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Orissa or far off places would be nothing short of a hallucination. Today, an ambulance worker’s statement on a channel was an eye opener in which he was saying that all the 85 ambulances in Lucknow are entrusted with the work of transporting patients and dead bodies. The irony of the situation is that barely the staff of five of these ambulances is fully equipped with gloves, mask and PPE (Personal Protective Equipments). In such a situation, the plight of the villages can well be ascertained.
In one research, it is being said that an infected person can usually infect 2.6 or about two and a half other people. But this research cannot be hold good for India. This may, however, carry some value for Italy and Spain where the population is very less, facilities are more and where people meet each other only when they are in need and maintain social distancing. On the contrary, our country has a population of 130 crores, which is many times more than China in terms of area. Although the population of China is more than that of India, i.e., 143 crores, but, according to the area, in China only 143 people live per square kilometer, whereas, in India, 455 people live per kilometer. The figure in the US is only 35 persons per square kilometer, Spain 91, Iran 49 and France 122 persons.
What will happen if this pandemic reaches the third degree i.e., community level in our country? Let us guess from this that 3277 deaths occurred in China, 593 in America, 2311 in Spain, 1812 in Iran, and 860 in France. In such a situation, an infected person will infect several hundred people here. Today a national daily has published that a doctor who came to India from London, has infected 300 people. In foreign countries, usually no one goes to the airport to see off anyone or to receive. But, here in India, if a relative is returning from abroad, the whole village reaches to receive him. Secondly, he would touch the feet of every elderly man of the village, hug the youth and kiss kids. If an infected person does this, then the broad impact of infectiousness can be gauged. Now think of a situation where thousands of infected people reach villages. In such circumstances, how can we stop this epidemic from spreading?
Today’s latest update is that more than 16 thousand people have died across the world so far, in which 462 people died in a beautiful country like Spain alone in just one day. In Spain there is no flat system to live in. Most of the people like to live in bungalows surrounded by gardens and despite that such a terrible situation of epidemic! Italy, which is claimed to be the second-best medical system in the world, has also failed to combat the epidemic today. When such rich countries are confronted with such a miserable situation of epidemic, the position will be harder to imagine if this epidemic spreads in the villages in India.
Therefore, wherever curfews have been imposed in the entire country, it should be strictly followed and people who insist on going to their villages may be allowed to go, but, my advice would be that before sending them to the village they must be kept in any district hospital for 14 days of Isolation. Only after that they should be allowed to go to their village. Going to the village without isolation would be dangerous. If an infected person reaches the village due to any mistake or negligence, he will infect the entire village and when the whole village becomes infected, then how shall we be able to arrange for their treatment? We would then be advancing towards the plague situation that struck 120 years ago.
Corona infection is mainly a lung disease and it causes the most damage to the lungs. When the corona virus reaches the lungs, breathing problems and suffocation result in a person’s life. Those having habits of regularly consuming alcohol, chewing tobacco or smoking, their lungs are already weak and prone to such attacks. Position being such, if the infection reaches the villages, the situation will be frightening, because there are no adequate medical facilities to deal with such a terrible epidemic in the villages.
Just yesterday 5 infected patients were admitted to Jabalpur Medical College, but there was no tissue paper, no dustbin, no face mask, no sanitizer or hand gloves there. So, when the medical college of the country has this situation, imagine the situation of the villages. In such a situation, a general appeal is to stop taking the infected person to the villages. If at all this infection goes to the villages, then the situation will be the dire one and the number of infected people will reach millions and the deaths caused therefrom would be difficult to assess.
One death that occurred at Patna is that of a young man who returned from Qatar in Central Asia, and who was only 38 years old. This incident has also proved wrong the illusion that only people above 60 years of age are prone to corona infection. The young man was from a village in Munger district and was returning to his village from Qatar. He was either already infected or must have been infected on the way. Immediately he was admitted to Indira Gandhi Hospital in Patna, where he died during treatment. He could not carry the infection to his village.
But, on the way from Qatar to Delhi and then from Delhi to Patna, there is no idea and record of how many people he must have touched. Infection spreads in this very manner. So, it has to be kept in mind that any person going from Delhi to Patna or Lucknow, Gorakhpur, Varanasi, Bhuvneshwar, Ranchi, Kolkata or Guwahati, should not be allowed to go directly to his village. If no person without isolation (segregation) enters the village, only then the problem will be solved, otherwise not.
Now let us also talk about the foolish insolents. This morning a similar insolent reached the same hospital in Patna, where a young man infected with Carona had died yesterday. He had reached with a patient. The strictness was obvious after yesterday’s incident. Calling himself a BJP spokesperson and close to Home Minister and CM, Bihar, he threatened and abused everyone in the line. When the security personnel stationed there did not give him any weightage, he created a scene. Somehow the matter was calm. We have to be cautious Even from such insolent maniacs.
Now talk about the plague epidemic. It caused terrible havoc in our country one hundred and twenty years ago. During the year 1898-99 there was a terrible plague that spread across the country especially in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Bengal, Orissa. Swami Vivekananda used to carry corpses and cremate them throughout the day with his disciples. Then he used to prepare khichdi of whatever he would get in alms, and eat once during night. Vivekanand had first prepared a “manifesto” of the plague of what to do and what not to do. This “manifesto” was first made in Bengali and then translated into Hindi and English. It included a code of conduct for the patients of plague and their attendants.
The similar code of conduct is required today, which needs to be followed strictly. It will be Modi’s code of conduct. This epidemic is more dangerous than the plague epidemic, because it is spreading not just by touching but also by coughing, spitting, blowing off from the nose. Therefore, the only means to fight it is – vigilance, moderation and widespread awareness and strict adherence to rules.
(Writer is Senior Editor and Columnist)
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of AFTERNOON VOICE and AFTERNOON VOICE does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.