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85% Believe Farmers’ Protest will Worsen Covid Surge: Survey

In Health, Nation
December 07, 2020

As the Covid-19 daily caseload in Delhi finally saw a decline after a major festival-related surge since early November with number of daily cases coming down from 7,000 to an average of 3,500, the farmers agitation at the Delhi borders could turn out to be the next “superspreader” people worry, a survey shows.

With over 3,00,000 farmers already protesting in Delhi, protests are also growing in other cities of India. Latest reports suggest that over 40 farmers at the protest site in Delhi are already showing symptoms of Covid, such as high fever, cough and fatigue and refuse to get tested or be admitted in hospitals nearby.

LocalCircles has conducted a survey to understand citizens’ opinion over the timing of the farmers’ movement in Delhi being a hotspot for Covid-19 cases, as well as what people think of the call for the nationwide shutdown on Tuesday.

The survey received more than 17,000 responses from people located in 211 districts of India.

As one of the programs to protest the implementation of the Farmer’s Bill, the farmers union have called a Bharat Bandh on December 8, with many political fronts also supporting their movement.

Related to this program one of the questions in the survey asked, “Do you believe farmers are doing the right thing by calling for an India-wide shutdown, and closure of all roads and toll plazas connecting Delhi on December 8?”.

The question received 8,837 responses, with 77 per cent citizens indicating that the shutdown is not the right approach to getting their voice heard. Shutdowns inconvenience common citizens in several ways and if history is referred to, causes and political parties have achieved little with such calls for shutdown in the past.

As the Covid-19 pandemic is still strong, with the number of new cases reported in the country rising between 30,000-45,000 each day, another question of the survey asked citizens, “Do you believe that the farmers’ protest will impact the spread of Covid-19?”. To that the poll had about 85% citizens maintain that the protest would worsen the Covid-19 spread. 43 per cent said it will significantly worsen Covid-19 spread, while 42 per cent said it will worsen Covid-19 spread.

Reports indicate that a sizable section of the protesting farmers believe that Covid cannot do much and the impact of the new farmer laws is far worse than what Covid can do. Citizens on the other hand believe that the farmers are totally within their rights to protest but given how all norms of social distancing, masks and hand hygiene are being violated at the protest sites concerns them greatly. Another big concern raised by citizens is the fact that as Covid spreads at the protest site in Delhi, many of the protesting farmers could take it back with them to Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and the various states of India leading to another spike there.