Coronavirus update: Delhi’s Mayur Vihar had locked its gates after first Covid-19 case
Coronavirus update: The chemists in Delhi’s Mayur Vihar said masks and sanitizers are flying off the racks and the demand for basic medicines for flu, fever, diabetes and asthma has also gone up. Even when the shelves are refilled with essentials, it barely lasts till the end of the business day, they said.Updated: Mar 26, 2020 03:18 IST
For nearly a week, the neighbourhoods of east Delhi’s Mayur Vihar Phase-1 have locked their gates to outsiders. The security guards of all apartments have been given strict instructions to not allow in any visitors, house helps or vendors distributing newspapers. The only time the pedestrian entries are opened is to let in vegetable sellers.
Despite the inconvenience, the residents’ welfare associations (RWAs) of several of these colonies said people have been adhering to directions issued by the government and the police. The delivery of essential items is collected from the gates, while ensuring that there is no crowding. Apart from that, people rarely step out of homes.
This perfect compliance, however, was disrupted Tuesday evening after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown. Just minutes after the announcement, markets were packed with panicked shoppers. People started lining up outside grocery stores, vegetable vendors and meat shops to prepare for the coming three weeks at home.
Mohini Rajkumar, a resident of Samachar Apartments, said around 9pm, the market opposite her colony was crowded with residents armed with huge shopping bags and baskets, all intent on a panic-buying spree. “Even before this pandemic hit the city, I had not seen such a large crowd in this market. There was a queue outside the grocery store and people were buying vegetables, fruits, paneer and milk, in as much quantities as they could. The market also stayed open beyond its closing hour of 10pm — shopkeepers could understand the plight of these people,” Rajkumar said.
From March 2, when the first Covid-19 case was reported from Delhi, residents of Mayur Vihar started exercising caution. The first Covid-19 patient was a resident of Mayur Vihar Phase-2, which is less than 5km from the Phase-1 locality.
Pocket-1 of Mayur Vihar Phase-1, a neighbourhood developed by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) in the early 1980s, was not designed as a gated neighbourhood as the concept was still not so popular back in those days. However, fears of the virus spreading has turned this locality into fortress— getting in and out of it is a task even for its residents.
“Navigating through the area is difficult, especially because it is a bigger colony with no set boundaries or walls, but the safety of residents is of primary concern and this (turning a fortress) is a call that we had to take to prevent community spread here,” Sarita Rangarajan, a member of the Pocket-1 RWA, said.
She said many in her colony have expressed fears about their and their families’ well-being.
“People are scared and the government is trying to do its job but they should also send out messages that will calm the public. We all have to come out of this together,” Rangarajan said.
The chemists in the area said masks and sanitizers are flying off the racks and the demand for basic medicines for flu, fever, diabetes and asthma has also gone up. Even when the shelves are refilled with essentials, it barely lasts till the end of the business day, they said.
“After the janta curfew last Sunday, people have been expecting such a complete lockdown, but I don’t think anyone ever imagined that the curfew would be so strictly enforced and that too for as long as three weeks,” said Manpreet Singh, a chemist at Apollo Pharmacy in Archarya Niketan, a crowded marketplace located right in the middle of this middle-class neighbourhood.
The residents here also fear that apart from the contagion itself, the nature and geography of Mayur Vihar Phase-1 makes it vulnerable to a community spread. The gated communities are only a small part of this area — it is also surrounded by densely populated neighbourhoods of Acharya Niketan, Shashi Garden, Patparganj Village, Trilokpuri and Chila Village.
According to the personnel at the Delhi Police post, 12 people have been home quarantined in the locality, all of whom are residents of middle-class, gated colonies.
“If the pandemic were to spread here, we do not know how things will be handled. This area is a mix of all classes of people, what if a house help from one of these houses were to get the infection? Most helps live in small houses with have large families sharing the space. Such an outbreak will be our worst nightmare come true, something that we are all praying against,” Dr Madhuri Shrivastav, a general physician who practices at a local clinic in the area, said.