Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXX No. 7, August 1-15, 2020
Historically there have been many ways of isolating patients with infectious diseases. The ill can be removed to a place where they cannot infect others. If they are treated at home, then the residence itself can carry a warning sign – a method that has been in place since the time of the plagues. The most disturbing however, and even traumatic for those living in such houses, is the prospect of being barricaded in. And yet, this is precisely what the city’s civic body is doing, and this is now being copied by other cities too.
The modus operandi, so we learn, is that the moment a test detects someone as Covid positive, their address details are shared by the laboratory itself with the Corporation. Whereupon, representatives of the civic body arrive and put up corrugated metal sheet barricades all around the residence. If it is an independent house, the family of the infected person stays in; and if it is a multi-storeyed building, then everyone else in the block also stay at home. Flex banners are then hung out on the corrugated sheets, informing all passers-by and vendors that the house contains infected people.
All very well thus far. But it is in the design of those barricades that there is much to object to. Rather in the manner in which the great Moghul is said to have buried alive a courtesan who was in love with his son, these sheets are nailed close all around the house, leaving a small opening for entry and exit. This presumably is for the health workers to come in and take a look at how the patient is recovering. But beyond that, it effectively makes a prison out of the whole building.
Now, a residence or a block of flats may be faced with situations when mass evacuation is needed. What happens if there is a fire for instance? How can all residents rush out to safety if the gates are as wide as the proverbial eye of the needle? What if a person has a fracture and has to be removed in a stretcher or needs an ambulance to be brought to the doorstep? There could be an earthquake – such a happening though rare is not unknown in the city. After all, Covid is not the only problem that people may face. And even among those infected with Covid, there are instances where doctors ask for the patient to be sent out for scans.
Chief, it’s time to unleash that rumbling laugh. You won’t believe what tumbled into the Madras Musings inbox a few days ago. An email kicking off with the words: ‘Hey Muthiah’!
That’s right. Talk about being a bit behind on the news, just a tad dodgy on facts. But first, let’s address the manner of …er…addressing.
Absolutely feisty and cheerful, no question, but for a second, a certain hilarious image appears before you – of Asterix and Obelix at the Circus, greeting none other than Julius Caesar himself with a cheekily friendly ‘Hi Julius, old boy’. Also, you can’t help but wonder how many decades it has been since anyone in our fair city had the temerity to call out to the Chief like that.
There’s good news for book-lovers. The Madras Book Club (MBC) has launched a few initiatives to overcome the problems posed by the Coronavirus and the lockdown. “We’ll continue our mission of promoting books and writing,” says the club.
Life has changed so much over the past few months that it is getting rather hard to recall the city’s sights and sounds from pre-pandemic days. A sight that we have missed is that of children going to school. It’s always a delight to see them packed off to learn new things, wearing neatly pressed uniforms and well-shined shoes. It was in March that the administration first instructed that children were to forego school attendance in view of the pandemic; now August is upon us and, with the situation remaining unclear, educational institutions continue to keep their gates shut. Keen to ensure that kids don’t lose touch with their studies, the city’s schools have been pushing the envelope to reach the children under their wing. “Like doctors and public servants, education has also been quietly working behind the scenes through the pandemic,” says Nikhath Suhail, Treasurer at the MWA Matriculation Higher Secondary School. “We are unsung heroes.”