New Delhi: “Living in a coronavirus hotspot area is a very scary thought, it is like the virus is somewhere very close to us, amid the seriousness of the pandemic which has taken lives of lakhs of people around the world,” said 59-year-old Virendra Sharma living in Sector 37 of Noida, which is one of the hotspots of Gautam Buddh Nagar District. His son, Arnav Sharma added, “We cannot move out from our houses at all. There is strict surveillance of two police officers all the time. PM Modi rightly said, ‘don’t cross the laksham rekha of social distancing’, it is exactly like that.”
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, as of April 23, there are more than 20,000 people infected and killed about 600, across the country, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The government earlier this month has identified coronavirus hotspots in order to contain and control the outbreak of the virus within these defined areas. As per the guidelines, an area with more than 15 COVID-19 cases is considered as a hotspot or a red zone. Of the country’s over 700 districts, the centre has identified 170 districts – roughly a quarter as ‘coronavirus hotspots’. Gautam Buddh Nagar is one of the districts in the list.
Explaining how the hotspot areas have been identified in Gautam Buddh Nagar, the District Magistrate, Suhas Lalinakere Yathiraj added,
As of April 22, we had a total of 103 COVID-19 cases, of which, 48 patients have been cured and the district presently has 33 hotspots. The hotspots have been identified where there is even one positive case of coronavirus as we want to contain the spread within the sector/societies or the specific areas and want to take Gautam Buddh Nagar out of the hotspot district list as a whole.
Out of total 103 cases in GB Nagar, 48 patients have been cured and discharged. 55 active cases remain.
Presently we have 33 hotspots, which are listed below. We shall continue to fight with strong resolve.
Stay Home and Stay Safe ???? pic.twitter.com/uiY43LtrX3
— DM G.B. Nagar (@dmgbnagar) April 22, 2020
An Onground Reality Of Life In A Hotspot Area
NDTV speaks with citizens and authority workers from Sector 37 Noida, which has four positive cases of COVID-19 to know about the daily activities and routine life and how being in the ‘hotspot’ has affected them. Explaining the steps that were taken initially by the sector when the first case was reported, the chairman of Sector 37, Arun Vihar Residents Welfare Association, Col Shashi Vaid said,
On March 26, a resident of our sector was confirmed positive of COVID-19. The very same day, we alerted the Gautam Buddh Nagar district officials. On March 28, we alerted all the residents of the sector that the first case has been detected in the area through messages and a special announcement van was arranged. The society was sealed off completely for two days straight so that sanitisation drive could take place. In these two days of lockdown, no one was allowed to come inside the sector and no one was allowed to leave. Even essential services were completely stopped for those two days.
A few days later, the sector confirmed more cases and took the count to four positive cases of coronavirus – two-person from one house and one from the same house where the first case was detected. Mr Vaid adds,
To contain the spread, we initiated a strict lockdown. We have two main gates in the society and many small gates for respective lanes. During the lockdown period which is still on, we decided to close all these gates permanently. When centre came out with the list of hotspots, Gautam Buddh Nagar also initiated their own list of hotspots areas and since then the lockdown in the sector is under police surveillance.
Talking about how life has been impacted with this lockdown, an Amity professor and a resident of the sector said,
Initially, when the sector first case came into the picture, our society was completely sealed, during that time we had faced few issues as we couldn’t move out at all, nor anyone was allowed to come in. Thankfully, we were fortunate enough to have our daily essentials, so, we decided to share the essentials with the less fortunate like maids, guards and sanitation workers. We provided some dry ration to them. Now, also as the lockdown is still on but there are relaxations for essential services, we can’t step out of the sector but are allowed to go till mother dairy (for milk and vegetables) or the medical shop which is situated within the sector.
27-year-old Shreya Sharma with some disappointment adds,
Noida authority has messaged us all to download an app of Noida Authority for buying essential goods like vegetables, groceries, milk and more. But it came out to be a flop as the app just listS out shop names with their numbers who are open to deliver the essential things at the doorstep. But none of the shops listed actually delivers. As a result, I have to step out once in three days to buy the essentials within the sector.
As of now, in the sector, though there are many small grocery stores and shops, all are shut and only two things are open for the residents and that is the mother dairy (milk and vegetable) and a chemist shop. Along with this, waste pickers and sanitation workers are only allowed to go to residents house to collect the waste on a daily basis. Talking about the lockdown and how difficult it is to stop people from going out of the sector, a police official deployed at the main gate of the sector to ensure lockdown is followed strictly, an official said,
Every day, we get a few people, who want to get out of the sector. But each day, we disappoint them and send them back. These people need to understand these are not the normal times we are living in, we have to let go a few things in order to live a healthy life, one which is free of coronavirus. We were getting a few requirements of services like carpenter, electrician and plumber so we have made an arrangement of these technicians at the sector’s main gate. All these technicians report in the RWA’s office on a daily basis, if some residents face these household issues, they come to the main gate and report the problem. We review it and send the technician along if it is urgent.
To contain the spread of coronavirus, Gautam Buddh Nagar District Magistrate has also completely sealed the Noida-Delhi border amid the growing coronavirus crisis. The district magistrate said,
As per a report submitted by the doctors, recently, most of the patients who had tested positive, have had some connections with Delhi. The doctors have also suggested that those who are travelling between Delhi-Noida have high chances of getting infected with coronavirus and hence the border was sealed with immediate effect.
For now, at the hotspots areas of the district, continuous sanitation drive is on along with increase random samplings to check the spread of the virus.
As the covid warriors march on, in their call of duty, they are conducting deep sanitization in all the hotspots of GB Nagar. Please help them by staying at home and keeping your premises clean. pic.twitter.com/nHB4KdRkAt
— DM G.B. Nagar (@dmgbnagar) April 18, 2020