Four police personnel, three locals injured in clash over distribution of essentialsWhile many have been struggling to make a living in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, local authorities’ approach to relief distribution has left many hurt and angry.
Four police personnel and three locals were injured on Monday after members of the public clashed with police over distribution of relief materials to households affected by the Covid-19 crisis in Siraha.
The incident at Mirchaiya Municipality Ward No.8 took place as 200 people from impoverished households sought relief from the ward office, but found their names excluded on the list of beneficiaries, said Santu Jaisawal, Deputy Superintendent of Police at the Area Police Office, Mirchaiya.
Jaiswal said that police personnel were forced to fire tear gas and warning shots in the air to prevent and ensure law and order. “The four police personnel and three locals have sustained minor injuries.”
The ward office distributed essentials to 276 impoverished families on its list on Monday. Ward chair Ram Kumar Yadav said that the 200 families not on the list will also receive supplies soon. “There are 200 households not on the list. But we will distribute relief materials to them also, soon.”
The ward office distributed 12 kg rice, one kg pulses, a packet of salt, soya chunks and cooking oil to the impoverished families as relief. Rameshwor Yadav, a local of Mirchaiya whose name was not on the list, said, “We are suffering, so we had to resort to protests when our names were not on the list. The security personnel forced us out from the ward office when we started protesting.”
Locals and security personnel also clashed during relief distribution at Sukhipur Municipality Ward No. 2 on Sunday. The agitated locals had pelted stones at the ward office alleging that the people’s representatives distributed relief materials only to better-off families. Police had to resort to baton-charging them to take the situation under control.
In Chakraghatta Rural Municipality, Sarlahi, too locals staged a sit-in in front of the District Administration Office on Monday saying that they too have been deprived of relief supplies. Ram Kailash Ram, a local of Padariya, said, “There are 500 households in the ward, including 40 households of Chamars. We are yet to receive relief from the ward office even when all other families have received it. Those who have plenty of food grains also received relief. That’s why we are protesting.”
Ram, along with his neighbours, had been organising a sit-in in front of the rural municipal office for the last one week. According to Ram, they went to the District Administration Office on Monday as their concerns were not addressed by the rural municipal office.
In Samsi Rural Municipality, Mahottari, locals demonstrated outside the mayor’s office demanding essential supplies. Many in Samsi have been struggling to make a living in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, as the government imposed a lockdown.
On Monday, agitated locals encircled the local unit’s office, accusing it of failing to provide essential supplies even after 40 days since the lockdown began. The local unit had previously promised locals it would provide supplies relief and collected the names of residents in dire need of relief. The local unit hasn’t kept its promise.
The rural municipality had disbursed Rs 1 million to each ward to buy relief supplies, according to Shesh Faruk, rural municipality chief. The wards, however, distributed masks and sanitisers, instead of food.
Om Prakash Thakur in Sarlahi and Santosh Singh in Mahottari contributed reporting.
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of September 22, 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 has spread to 213 countries and territories around the world and infected more than 31,405,983 people with 967,505 deaths and 22,990,260 recoveries. In South Asia, India has reported the highest number of infections at 5,557,573 with 88,943 deaths. While Pakistan has reported 306,304 confirmed cases with 6,420 deaths. Nepal has so far reported 65,276 cases with 427 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.