Lockdown life style amidst pandemic: An outlook from Goa

authored by Neeta R. Torne

When a broken needy man was anticipating his next stomachful meal, when the filthy rich were planning their next vacation abroad, the forces of nature had something very different for them in store, an unseen, silent, impending disaster was awaiting and life was about to take a three sixty degree turn.

When the world got engulfed in a global pandemic, people across the world got confined to their homes. This seemingly unending holiday became an overwhelming curse on mental and physical well being of humans.

While the national and international news channels are reporting and covering cities around the world, providing an idea of how life has changed for the worse, I am going to tell you about the land that I call my home, a small but vibrant Goa.

When the nation-wide lockdown was imposed in India, Goa appeared relatively safer with no Covid-19 cases detected. Later, the situation changed. Immediately after the annoucement, the fear of running out of essential goods and services enveloped people. There was crowd at grocery stores to stock food and other supplies. The circumstances compelled the state government to put CISF jawans to force as to control the movement of people.

Goans began to worry, how they will manage to survive days without their much loved fish curry rice or purchase veggies that cannot be stocked for weeks. Goa began to face a shortage of vegetable supply as Belgavi discontinued its goods transport to the state. That's when the state's Horticulture Corporation turned to Goan villages for local produce.

Throughout the period of pandemic so far, the Chief Minister, Pramod Sawant kept addressing the people of Goa, not to take the situation lightly and take precautions at all times. He kept warning that COVID 19 cases exist but they are yet to be detected.

On 29th of March, the unexpected happened when a few people with a travel history abroad and their family members were detected to be suffering from the disease. A total of 7 cases were recorded by early April. The number was small but it shocked Goans.

The Chief Minister along with the Health Minister, Vishwajit Rane took actions to protect the state, taking all possible measures like building government quarantine facilities, a functioning Covid hospital to treat active cases and setting up of testing laboratories.

Amidst all this, what took back seat was the issue of jobs. While government servants with secure jobs and steady incomes remain unperturbed, the section of society relying on the informal sector for employment felt displaced by uncertainty. They exhausted their savings. Private company workers were either asked to leave or work for extra hours to make up for the lack of manpower.

A few were diligent enough to find alternative sources of income. A few days back, I heard the story of a garage mechanic who did not settle for this halt, he decided to do fishing.

The effect of lockdown in rural areas is quite different from the cities. Village communities are closely acquainted with each other, which makes them aware of the movement and well-being of other villagers, in contrast to cities where next door neighbours are strangers. City folks remain uninformed about community well-being.

Surrounded by all things sore and gloomy, there are a few who stand out like rose amidst thorns. Many people willingly volunteered to deliver essential services, help people find essentials, conducted surveys on health conditions of people, kept their shops, pharmacies, food delivery services open while risking their own lives and 'masked friends' .

Goa became a Covid free state as all patients who were detected, recovered. Soon, the state heaved a sigh of relief on May 1, when it got declared as a Green zone by the central government after no positive cases got detected for days together.

Things started relaxing as soon as Goans began enjoying the benefits of the Green zone protocol. Except for restrictions on social gatherings, places of worship, restaurants and malls, pretty much all economic activities resumed and started functioning like before. Public transport commenced, clinics opened, private vehicles were permitted on roads, few government and private offices also initiated but with strict protocol on social distancing. A few seafarers stranded abroad were also allowed in. Goa did not witness much migrant movements in and out the state.

Goa became one of the first states in India to be Covid-19 free. Now the state is in a financial slump, with only the fisheries and pharmaceutical industries functioning.

But just when things began to look normal, post Green zone declaration, with the opening state borders, 8 fresh positive cases got detected on the borders of Goa on 13-14 May. These were people travelling from parts of Maharashtra and Gujarat to Goa. One seafarer who was released after 14 days of quarantine in Mumbai is also among them. Fortunately, there was no danger of community transmission since the cases were examined on borders itself.

The state is striving to safeguard it's people from all threats. People are demanding that the government must  close the borders to prevent transmission of the disease.

It is increasingly evident that only the spirit of humanity can combat this pandemic. It sems the "lockdown lifestyle' is going to be the way of living for at least for the next few months. This situation can continue till a cure is found.

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