First-hand: 6 days of COVID-19 containment

Observations on ecological changes around my house

By Vibha Varshney
Published: Monday 04 May 2020
Containment zone at Kalkaji. Photo: Vibha Varshney

May 4, 2020 is the sixth day since our house was cordoned off after a neighbour tested positive for the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). My world is now limited to a few meters visible through the grill though I did go out a couple of times to water the plants and look pensively at the area on the other side of the yellow police tape.

The metal gate in front of our house was sanitised today by a municipal corporation team — a worker in personal protection equipment used a hand-held spray.

Earlier, we were sanitised twice on April 30. While the first round was by a hand-held applicator, the second time was with a high-power atomiser, which threw the droplets right inside my house and made the floor sticky.

On May 2, the area outside the containment zone was sanitised. I stepped out and saw a crowd of around 15 at the end of the road. A local politician seemed to have come to supervise.  

Atomised spraying is a good idea as chlorine has strong antiviral effect and is used to disinfect surfaces that could be contaminated and even the air. But the bleach solution seems to have changed the ecology of the area. The population of large milkweed bugs (Oncopeltus fasciatus) that usually destroy my potted plants during this season, has gone down.

When the lockdown began, the chirping of birds had increased; but now, after the repeated sanitisation, I feel that fewer birds are chirping. It could be because the insects they feed on were killed by the bleach. However, mosquitoes inside the house seem unaffected.

Street dogs, Chunnu and Munnu, who generally sleep through the afternoon in front of my house, did not like the smell of sanitiser and ignored us on that day. On the positive side, the misty environment tricked a pink lily flower to bloom. These flowers usually bloom after rain showers. A butterfly is also visible among the plants. 

I finally verified the Aarogya Setu app a day ago. When I checked it at 10 am on May 3, I found that within a radius of 500 meters, 3,550 people were using the app; out of which one person had tested positive. Fifteen took the self-assessment and four of them reported being unwell.

On May 4 morning, the number of people using the app in this radius increased to 3,703; 112 have taken the-self assessment and five reported as unwell. Six are considered at risk because of their proximity to the patient. Within a radius of 1 km, there are four confirmed cases. 

Otherwise, things are quiet. 

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