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‘People’s confidence in govt’s ability to tackle Covid dips’

PT Jyothi Datta Mumbai | Updated on July 30, 2020 Published on July 30, 2020

Thermal screening being done for a stranded migrant from Haryana after his arrival by â Shramik special train at Danapur station during the lockdown imposed in the wake of coronavirus. (file photo)

People wanted more stringent lockdown in high case-load areas, says LocalCircles survey

Over the last 75 days, the perception that India is on the right track when it comes to tackling Covid19 has slipped from 90 per cent to 51 per cent of respondents in a survey conducted just last week by LocalCircles, a community social media platform.

The survey had 35,000 responses from across 269 districts, including smaller towns and rural districts in large measure. And the dipping confidence levels come even as the administration preps for Unlock 3, or the opening-up of more services and facilities across States.

Sachin Taparia, Founder of LocalCircles, told BusinessLine that a survey in May found 90 per cent respondents confident that India would be able to contain the virus. But that dipped dramatically due to the indecisiveness shown by authorities on locking down, even in high virus-load districts.

“The way to look at it (the insight) is that India has limited options ahead and should undertake localised lockdowns and testing and tracking in districts with a large virus load,“ Taparia said. The social media platform is writing to government authorities at the Centre and States, he said, so they have feedback from the ground and take action to stem the spread of the virus and build confidence among people.

About 39 per cent answered in the “negative”, when asked if they believed that India was on the right track, he said. And a sizeable number of them believed that “India should have implemented stringent lockdown in the high virus load districts for much longer periods. According to many of them, opening of markets and businesses while footfalls are 20-30% of pre Covid-19 isn’t going to help the small business owner and it will worsen the spread,” the survey found.

Further, it said, some small businesses felt that they would not be able to sustain in this mode “where operating costs are higher than profits for more than 6 months and may have to fold up.”

According to them, “it would have been much better, had the Central or State Governments implemented a strict lockdown in these high load districts and only opened up businesses and markets when the case load declined considerably. Most of the large cities of India come in the high virus load category.”

‘Weekend lockdowns ineffective’

In its survey in early July, LocalCircles found that 69 per cent citizens indicated that a complete one-month lockdown must be implemented in high load districts. Weekend lockdowns were not effective, citizens said.

Further damaging to the sentiment in the country was that 43 per cent respondents expected India to cross eight million cases by December 2020. This meant a sense of fear resulting in people not spending etc, which in turn affects the economy, he said.

The sentiment was possibly fuelled by more people finding close family or friends having Covid. The survey found a 350 per cent increase, in two months, in people finding at least one Covid positive case in their social network i.e. family, extended family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, etc.

The road ahead is difficult, he said, with many festivals coming up. The virus was spreading to small towns and rural areas as cities try to stabilise their Covid cases. And as migrant labour begins to come back to work, this could further bring back infection, he cautioned.

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Published on July 30, 2020
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