Rasia Nayeem Hashmi
Hyderabad: As the novel coronavirus continues to spread, some countries are putting their citizens on various forms of lockdown. India, China, France, Italy, New Zealand, Poland, and the UK have implemented the world’s largest and most restrictive mass quarantines. Around 45,498 people have died and over 9,10,352 have been infected by the coronavirus worldwide. 1,90,901 have recovered so far.
Wuhan, China, where the virus first appeared, has been locked down for more than six weeks, and many other Chinese cities still face travel restrictions.
According to a Ministry of External Affairs report, there are 31 million Non Resident Indians (NRIs) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) residing outside India as of December 2018. Let’s have a look at how the Indian Diaspora is coping with the coronavirus lockdown.
United Arab Emirates
Maliha Fatima Khan, who resides in Dubai says: “Here the government has started sterilization programme for the roads. Initially it was a three-day lockdown from 26th March to 29th March. On March 29 the UAE extended the disinfection drive to public places until April 4.
She says employees of certain sectors are exempted from the lockdown. Other persons can go only for emergency works. Except pharmacies, groceries, restaurants (take away only) and hospitals every other service is under lockdown. Those who violate the rules are being fined or imprisoned or both.
On March 27 mosques were closed for the second consecutive Friday when there was no Friday prayer in the Masjid.
“We need to respect the rules and abide by them as they are for public good,” she says.
Maliha says, “We have planned activities to keep kids busy at home.”
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Suhaib Manzoor Hashmi, an IT professional and a resident of Jeddah, says he is not facing any major problem as grocery shops and small super markets are open. However, curfew timings have been extended. It starts from 3pm while earlier it was from 7pm. He says all malls are closed to avoid crowd. Hospitals and food joints like Albaik have placed social distancing stickers on floors to ensure that customers keep the adequate distance from each other. “We are not offering a single salah (prayer) in Masjid for past 2 weeks, not even on Friday.” On the other hand, his office has extended work from home till April 12. Shurtah (police) are penalizing resident who come out of their homes without any valid reasons during curfew hours.
Maria Fatima Khan who lives in the Eastern coastal city of Dammam says they are taking safety measures to avoid infection. Doors are opened using tissue papers while the lift button is being pressed with the car key. Supermarkets are jam-packed forcing people to return without shopping. Long queues are witnessed even at 8am. Curfew has been imposed from 7-00pm to 6-00am.
Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have imposed partial curfews and the UAE has imposed an overnight curfew until April 5 under a nationwide campaign to sterilize streets and public places.
Syed A. Quader (Kashif), a businessman from Qatar says everything is fine there. Workers have been given 100% stay home facility with free food and salary. If need arises people are put in quarantine in hospitals for 14 days. Eighty percent staff of the government sector is working from home. However, fewer people are working from home in the private sector. All public places like malls, parks, pubs, bars, sheesha joints, airport etc all closed. Only supermarkets, restaurants and offices are open. Restaurants must be closed by 7pm. Some quarantine centers have already been built while some are under progress. The lockdown in Qatar was enforced after the government announced 238 cases of the virus among “expatriate workers” on March 11.
Mufeez Imran Hashmi is studying in Sydney, Australia. He says there is no total lockdown as such. Essentials are open. Native people stay indoors but immigrants are roaming freely. Some suburbs are deserted. Employees are doing work from home and the colleges are closed. Classes are being conducted online. Only take-away is allowed in restaurants. Not more than 5 people are allowed in weddings and 10 in funerals. Heavy fines are imposed on larger gatherings. Mosques are closed.
Australia’s health minister on Tuesday said that the coronavirus growth rate has shown some signs of slowing down after the government enforced the enhanced social distancing norms in the country. The country has more than 4,450 confirmed cases and 19 deaths.
The United Kingdom
Father of three small kids, Mudassir Haseeb Farooqui resides in Birmingham, UK. He says, “The effects are different on each individual. As I work in IT sector, work-wise there is not much of a difference to me. But even that has some advantages and disadvantages!”
Listing the problems faced by him, Mudassir says kids are at home all the time. He cannot go out to see friends. Hence, the feeling of boredom is there.
He needs to go for groceries early in the morning to avoid long queues and empty shelves. There is anxiety over what is going to happen next. When everything is going to be alright? He is also missing food that he used to enjoy in restaurants.
The Covid-19 death toll in the UK jumped by 381 on Tuesday and now stands at 1,789.
The United States of America
Sufia Kaukab who stays in Dallas says, it has been almost a month since the stay at home order has been issued. It’s the time of season change from winter to spring, which every person look forward too. But 2020 brought spring with restrictions all around. It’s hard not to go out and enjoy the swings and soccer fields. The education system has been gone to e-learning from in person teaching helping all the tired and anxious moms at home. For some it’s a very hard time and for others it’s a vacation. Hadn’t the people obeyed to rule of stay-at-home, the numbers would have been unimaginable. It’s always good to listen to a wise word than to be sorry. Praying for people all over the world for ease.
The number of Covid-19 cases in US has risen to 186,101 with 3,603 casualties.