Balasore: Declared a COVID-19 Red Zone by the Centre, the going has been tough for Balasore district since the current lockdown was extended till May 17.
The district has reported 42 coronavirus positive cases so far, including 33 active cases and nine who have recovered.
However, Balasore fears a spike in cases with migrant labourers trying to sneak in from neighbouring West Bengal. Several people have complained that these “intruders” from across the border pose a grave risk to the already fragile situation in the district.
Apart from this, the shutdown has dealt a blow to the economy as well as the morale of the people. “The economy is terribly messed up. The markets open for a few hours during the day and that too only for essentials. It is a big loss for both traders and consumers. I wish the government should give some more relaxations,” said Abhik Kumar Nayak, who is pursuing his PhD from Central University, Hyderabad.
“Besides, the lockdown has seen a major surge in mental illness and stress, domestic abuse and many other health issues,” he added.
On their part, traders complained of huge losses and scarcity of stocks. “We are facing losses worth lakhs. Even if the district administration has given permission to open shops to sell essential items, we are unable to meet the demands of people because we are left with very limited stocks. Besides, production has also stopped due to lack of labourers who have migrated,” said a shopkeeper selling essential items.
The lockdown has also affected academic activities with students of Classes X and XII passing sleepless nights with anxiety over their pending exams and results. “My future seems uncertain. I feel disheartened as the lockdown keeps on extending,” said a student.
The situation really tough for frontline warriors who are working with limited safety equipment.
Notwithstanding the hardships, some have praised the district administration for being quite vigilant. “They are making sure that social distancing is maintained properly and people get all necessary things. They have made a proper list of activities which are allowed and which are not,” said a Balasore resident.
There are others who are also happy about the fact that the environment is getting better day by day, thanks to minimal human activities. “We are also getting time to spend with our families, which earlier was very rare. I also think that this is the time to explore hobbies like cooking, painting, dancing, etc.,” said another resident.
“I am hopeful that things will be better very soon and the economy will be back to track within a year or two. After all hope keeps dreams alive,” he added optimistically.