All brick kilns in Nawalparasi (East) in operation despite the lockdownAround 1,400 Indian workers are employed in various kilns in the district; most are happy to stay put and work.
While most businesses and services have been suspended due to the nationwide lockdown amid Covid-19 fear, several brick kilns in Nawalparasi (East) are still in operation.
All nine kilns in the district are in operation as of Thursday. According to the district brick kiln entrepreneurs’ association, a total of 1,596 workers, mostly Indian nationals, are currently working in the kilns.
“Around 200 workers are still working at DBI Brick Kiln in Kawasoti. We asked the owner to halt the operations for the duration of the lockdown but he hasn’t complied,” said Jitnarayan Mahato, the ward chairman of Ward No. 14 of Kawasoti Municipality.
According to Mahato, the deputy mayor called the operator at the former’s office on Wednesday and instructed him to close the kiln to minimise the risk of exposure to novel coronavirus. “We have also informed the local administration about it today,” added Mahato.
However, the kiln owners say they haven’t brought the operations to halt because most workers are from Bareily in Uttar Pradesh, India and can’t be sent back to their hometowns. “I have around 200 workers from Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh. The border is sealed so we asked them to stay back,” said Bikash Pradhan, owner of DBI Brick Kiln. “They only work in the mornings and evenings.”
Some of the workers at the kiln are from Nawalparasi itself.
Pradhan asserted that he was ready to release the workers and close the kiln if the authorities manage the workers’ food and shelter during the lockdown period. According to him, the workers are not allowed to go out of the kiln and outsiders are barred from entering the kiln premises.
“My house is around 600 km from here. But we can’t go so we will stay here. We have informed our families in Bareily,” Riyasat Ali, a 33-year-old worker in the kiln, told the Post over the phone.
Krishna Gautam, district secretary of brick kiln entrepreneurs’ association, said, “The kiln owners are ready to send the workers home if the government manages the logistics.”
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of June 2, 2020
What is Covid-19?
Covid-19, short for coronavirus disease, is an illness caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, short for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. Common symptoms of the disease include fever, dry cough, fatigue, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
How contagious is Covid-19?
Covid-19 can spread easily from person to person, especially in enclosed spaces. The virus can travel through the air in respiratory droplets produced when a sick person breathes, talks, coughs or sneezes. As the virus can also survive on plastic and steel surfaces for up to 72 hours and on cardboard for up to 24 hours, any contact with such surfaces can also spread the virus. Symptoms take between two to 14 days to appear, during which time the carrier is believed to be contagious.
Where did the virus come from?
The virus was first identified in Wuhan, China in late December. The coronavirus is a large family of viruses that is responsible for everything from the common cold to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). After an initial outbreak in Wuhan that spread across Hubei province, eventually infecting over 80,000 and killing more than 3,000, new infection rates in mainland China have dropped. However, the disease has since spread across the world at an alarming rate.
What is the current status of Covid-19?
The World Health Organisation has called the ongoing outbreak a “pandemic” and urged countries across the world to take precautionary measures. Covid-19 had spread to 213 countries and infected more than 6,321,836 people with 375,657 deaths. In South Asia, India has reported the highest number of infections at 198,140 with 5,608 deaths. While Pakistan has reported 72,460 confirmed cases with 1,543 deaths. Nepal has so far reported 2,099 cases with eight deaths.
How dangerous is the disease?
The mortality rate for Covid-19 is estimated to be 3.6 percent, but new studies have put the rate slightly higher at 5.7 percent. Although Covid-19 is not too dangerous to young healthy people, older individuals and those with immune-compromised systems are at greater risk of death. People with chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease, or those who’ve recently undergone serious medical procedures, are also at risk.
How do I keep myself safe?
The WHO advises that the most important thing you can do is wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizers with at least 60 percent alcohol content. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unclean hands. Clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces like your computers and phones. Avoid large crowds of people. Seek medical attention if symptoms persist for longer than a few days.
Is it time to panic?
No. The government has imposed a lockdown to limit the spread of the virus. There is no need to begin stockpiling food, cooking gas or hand sanitizers. However, it is always prudent to take sensible precautions like the ones identified above.