PortandTerminal.com, March 26, 2020
India imposed the world’s largest anti-coronavirus lockdown and their police are not playing games as they try to enforce it.
NEW DELHI – India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has imposed a 3-week nationwide lockdown of the country’s 1.3 billion people in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The stakes are high. While officially there are only 722 cases in the country, the true number is unknown – there is almost no testing for the virus in India. If the virus does get a foot-hold it will spread like an Australian bushfire. India’s population is even more densely packed than China’s and the country is poor.
During the 21-day lockdown all Indians are required to stay at home and all nonessential services such as public transport, malls and market are shut down. No one across the country is allowed to leave their home except to go to buy food or medicine or to see a doctor.
The lock-down though is proving to be difficult to enforce, despite the rough treatment the Indian police are giving to anyone they catch defying it.
One reason that it is so hard to enforce is the weather – India is hot at this time of year. Highs this week in Mumbai, India’s largest city with a population of over 18 million, will be in the low 90’s. In Southern parts of India, temperatures will top 100 degrees. Making matters more uncomfortable is the fact that only about 5% of Indian households have air conditioning.
The second reason is the housing itself. There are 78 million people in India who live slums. Imagine being locked up with your extended family in a one-room shack, when the temperature outside is 100 degrees. Now try that without air conditioning in a slum, like the one in the photo below.
A third and less savory reason the lockdown is so hard to enforce is the habits of many rural Indians when it comes to defecation. Despite the efforts of the government to build toilets throughout the country, 44% of rural Indians still defecate in the open. The need to relieve oneself in the open is a habit ingrained amongst millions in the country, that takes them outside their homes. And once they have relieved themselves, consider the filth and risk of their waste as it sits in the open, ready to infect anyone unlucky enough to come in contact with it.
India is a ticking time-bomb and the police are right to take rough measures to try to defuse it. Let’s hope that they work.
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