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“Life and livelihoods both are important”

Mudda debates the psychological impact of Covid-19

Covid-19 has impacted us all, and triggered many social, mental and psychological issues as well. A 32-year-old man who was suspected to have coronavirus and was kept at the quarantine facility at Galgotia College, Greater Noida, committed suicide on Sunday. There have been cases of people committing suicide due to Covid-19 fears, due to the stigmatisation arising out of quarantines or feeling social pressure due to being the frontline workers. APN’s popular debate Mudda discussed the issue. Anchor Neha Dubey discussed the issue with panelists including medical experts Dr Naresh Chawla and Dr Romesh Raina, APN Editor Ajay Kaul and Covid-19 recovered patient, Umashanker Pandey.

Dr Raina said: “In the 1920s, 50 million people lost their lives due to the Spanish Flu. Then there was SARS and MERS. The Covid-19 virus has jumped from animals to humans. Social distancing is important to deal with it.”

Dr Chawla said: “This is the neocroronavirus. I would like to say that this illness is not as scary as is made out to be. Right now, there is panic. Prime Minister Modi announced the lockdown. US did not announce any lockdown at the start, but we all know it’s right now facing a huge challenge. The PM has advised all to be at home. The virus is spread through droplets and through contaminated surfaces. Symptomatic or asymptomatic people are advised quarantine or preventive isolation. Observation over a 14-day period is needed of suspected people. I am surprised that this is leading to suicides.”

Pandey said: “The patient feels a bit weird, the way he is segregated, but there is no negative feeling. All the government is doing is for our good. I did not have any cold or sore throat. I only felt feverish and had upset stomach. My test turned out Positive. I had travelled to Turkey and back, was tested at the airport and there was nothing at that time. I became symptomatic later. Once admitted, the patients are regularly checked.”

Dr Raina said: “A kind of panic is triggered. There is also information overload and that affects the overall wellbeing of the quarantined person. We will have to change our social behaviour, and a positive atmosphere needs to be created.”

Dr Chawla said: “We are both a modern nation and a developing nation. Illiteracy is rampant and people are superstitious. See for the vast majority of people, they are feeling the impact of the sudden shutdowns. Media and governance have to chip in to remove the fear psychosis. Quarantine is no treatment, neither is there any reason to stigmatise such persons.”

Pandey said: “I was admitted to hospital on 18/3/20 and went out on 10/4/20. I would not like people to bear any ill-will for Corona patients. One should be in the midst of positive-thinking people.”

Dr Raina said: “There is social responsibility too involved in dealing with Covid 19 outbreak. After all, isolations are recommended for the benefit of society. So, the society has to ensure that such people do not feel stigmatised. Now the PM is going to addressed the nation at 10 am tomorrow. Modi ji is leading not just the country but the whole world with a lot of positivity. This is commendable.”

Kaul said: “It was expected that the PM would address the nation today, since tomorrow the 21-day lockdown ends. Lockdown might get extended by some states. We already have news for the extension in Punjab, Haryana, Telangana etc. It could be that the same approach is taken countrywide. The government has to look at both life and livelihoods. For instance, small business have been impacted severely. But cases are on the rise, so social distancing has to be imposed. People are not doing it voluntarily, so lockdown becomes imperative. Logistics need to be studied, like how economic activities can function after observing social distancing.”

Dr Chawla said: “Lockdown is not an easy decision for the government. The issue is of both life and livelihoods. In all probability, lockdown will be extended till April 30; people are getting frustrated, and many are dealing with depression and anxiety. The rising Covid-19 curve needs to flatten. This is a strong reason to go in for the lockdown extension. In South Korea, people have been responsible. On the other hand, people in our country have even hid their travel histories! In other countries, legal action would have started against such people.”

Dr Raina said: “Marking of Red Zones, Yellow Zones and Green Zones will help in identifying containment zones. The public health initiatives of the government have been strong and the exit policy is likely to be strong with suitable identification of hotspots. The economy will take time to pick-up, and might take another year. Social responsibility of the society includes not to target frontline workers.”

Kaul said: “Lockdown is a desperate measure to break the chain. This can’t go on indefinitely.”

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