Even as more and more tests are done in India, a trend involving the well-educated and elite opened a risky can of worms.
Various news reports talk about a wealthy someone throwing a marriage or birthday party, inviting several people to it while putting them all at risk.
By not adhering to safety precautions they are, inadvertently, helping in the community spread of the virus.
In her Medium article, ‘Why India’s “Elite” is the Hidden Threat of COVID-19’, writer Shubbu Amin effectively talks about the callousness of the elite class through multiple examples of how they speak about ‘Life has to go on’, ‘Oh, but we’re all fine; we won’t get it’ and ‘We are bored sitting at home’. She adds that while only a hand few can exercise those ‘privileges’, their ‘complaints’ not only apply to partying and socialising in person but also put everyone around them at risk so.
COVID-19, the great leveller
Dr Sanjeev Singh Yadav, Hon State Secretary, Indian Medical Association, Telangana State, is certain it is not time yet to celebrate. Instead, he sheds light on how some among the elite believe nothing could happen to them. “Everybody is equal in the eyes of coronavirus. It won’t stop from infecting you just because you are wealthy,” says Dr Sanjeev.
“Often, people think that money and power will get them everywhere, but now that’s not the case with coronavirus.” Then talking about the number of people he has witnessed placing emergency services car stickers so that they can move around freely, he adds how many even tend to ‘forget’ that they still need to wear a mask while they are comfortably sitting inside their AC cars. “It is the air from outside that the cooling system is venting out, which may carry the virus,” he adds, warning, “People need to understand that for the poor and the working class venturing out for work is a need, whereas for the elite class, visiting a coffee shop or a restaurant is a choice. The coming one month is a crucial time for all in India.”
Social distancing still the best option
Dr Viswesvaran Balasubramanian, Senior Interventional Pulmonologist and Sleep Medicine Specialist, Yashoda Hospitals, agrees to the importance of social distancing and how easy it is for the coronavirus to spread in the community.
“Spreading of coronavirus among people is very easy even if you are very careful,” he cautions. “That one sharing of a smoke or drink is enough. Social distancing is the best option to contain the numbers and to ensure you do not risk your near and dear ones.”
Pointing out how in the US, someone had organised a Corona Party recently, just for the sake of it, which ended in a couple of the guests dying too, he warns that homes can be a huge source of infection too. “Interestingly, the highest chance of contracting the virus is when there is a social gathering at home or for businessmen when meeting many people regularly.”
Dr Nikhil Mathur, Vice President Medical Services CARE Group of Hospitals, also believes that community spread is inevitable especially if people with higher income don’t behave responsibly.
“Till an effective vaccine is found and distributed, the use of mask and sanitisers while maintaining social distance should be enforced,” says Dr NIkhil. “There is no point in unnecessarily increasing one’s risk of contracting the virus by visiting a public place. With news coming in that the virus can be airborne and that people can be asymptomatic, even if you remove the mask for a few seconds to have a sip from your soft drink while enjoying with friends at a mall, you are still at risk.”
Then, the doctor talks about how once a person is infected with the virus, they are at risk of infecting many others, some of whom may even not have the means to get treatment.
“Elite or not, people are still fighting against the social stigma of being a coronavirus patient. It is important to encourage people to come out if they are not feeling well and report to their authorities and get proper medical help. Also, employers among the elite class need to stop looking beyond their profits and look after their employees in need and not cut salaries if they are not being able to attend work due to illness,” says Dr Nikhil adding, how it is a collective responsibility of all to safeguard themselves.