Cut loose: End of COVID-19 containment

Life goes back to normal in my area of residence 

By Vibha Varshney
Published: Monday 18 May 2020

My home is no longer in the containment zone.

Exactly 14 days after my neighbour was diagnosed with the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), we heard the sharp sound of metal scraping over the road. Curious to know out what this was, I stepped out and found that police barricades on one side of the road were being removed by shop labourers. That side has a small market. 

We were not very sure whether this removal was authorised; other neighbours said this was above board. With the barricade gone, people could come out of the houses. The barricade on the other side (a car put across the road), however, had not been removed. The movement, therefore, was restricted.

Delivery men would have to take a U-turn because of the barricade. But at least there was some excitement.

In the afternoon, the neighbour who had been sick, returned; but only to pick up his car so that he could spend the next seven days of home quarantine at a relative’s place. He looked taken care of, but then, he only had mild symptoms to begin with.

It was only half-an-hour after he left that a policeman and a social worker arrived to complete the formalities. From what I could hear from my home, they were not happy to find that he was not there.

They called him and asked for a photo of the result of his COVID-19 test done before he was released from the quarantine centre.

In an hour or so, the second barricade was removed as well. The yellow police tape was left tied to one side of the road. Street dogs Chunnu and Munnu ran up and down the road freely in their territory. They looked happy.

The next day, the municipal corporation department sweeper came and the patch of road in the front was cleaned after 14 days. The thick cover of silk cotton, ripe fruits of Ficus, leaves and dead branches were finally removed. Vegetable vendors came back. They looked happy too.

The Aarogya Setu app finally showed that we did not have a COVID-19 case within 500 metres radius of my house. I hear that an old lady within this radius tested positive too. But she probably does not have a smart phone to download the app.

Things have eased back into what our life was before containment. Could this be an indication of what would happen when the lockdown ends?

The large milkweed bug is already back with vengeance. Maybe there is no ‘new normal’ and life does really go on.

The neighbour’s seven days of self-quarantine would be over on May 19, 2020. We have another case within 500-metre radius, but as the resident welfare association has not informed us, I presume it is not very near us.

There are three more cases within a kilometre. The danger still persists. But we know very little about the disease to be able to make informed choices.

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