With a white handkerchief covering his mouth and nose, only Rajkumar Prajapati’s tired eyes were visible as he stood in line.
It was before sunrise on Aug. 5, but there were already hundreds of others waiting with him under fluorescent lights at the main railway station in Pune, an industrial city not far from Mumbai, where they had just disembarked from a train. Each person carried something: a cloth bundle, a backpack, a sack of grain. Every face was obscured by a mask, a towel or the edge of a sari. Like Prajapati, most in the line were workers returning to Pune from their families’ villages, where they had fled during the lockdown. Now, with mounting debts, they were back to look for work. When Prajapati got to the front of the line, officials took his details and stamped his hand with ink, signaling the need to self-isolate for seven days.
In May, Nicholas (not his real name), 27, received an email from the food and beverage (F&B) company where he was employed as a quality control officer. It was during the circuit breaker measures which saw many businesses stop operations, and he and his colleagues had gone on no-pay leave.
There’s a joke about immunology, which Jessica Metcalf of Princeton recently told me. An immunologist and a cardiologist are kidnapped. The kidnappers threaten to shoot one of them, but promise to spare whoever has made the greater contribution to humanity. The cardiologist says, “Well, I’ve identified drugs that have saved the lives of millions of people.” Impressed, the kidnappers turn to the immunologist. “What have you done?” they ask. The immunologist says, “The thing is, the immune system is very complicated …” And the cardiologist says, “Just shoot me now.”
Two new studies, though from different parts of the world, have arrived at the same conclusion: that young children not only transmit SARS-CoV-2 efficiently, but may be major drivers of the pandemic as well.
As a covid-19 summer surge sweeps the country, deep cleans are all the rage.
National restaurants such as Applebee’s are deputizing sanitation czars to oversee the constant scrubbing of window ledges, menus, and high chairs. The gym chain Planet Fitness is boasting in ads that “there’s no surface we won’t sanitize, no machine we won’t scrub.” New York City is shutting down its subway system every night, for the first time in its 116-year history, to blast the seats, walls, and poles with a variety of antiseptic weaponry, including electrostatic disinfectant sprays. And in Wauchula, Florida, the local government gave one resident permission to spray the town with hydrogen peroxide as he saw fit. “I think every city in the damn United States needs to be doing it,” he said.
Sweden settled on a policy that they thought was both sustainable and would save as many lives as possible. They weren’t trying to ‘show anyone up’ or ‘prove how smart they were’. They simply took a more traditionalist approach that avoided a full-scale lockdown. That’s all.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the World Health Organization has stressed that, primarily, Covid-19 spreads through very close personal contact. The virus-laden droplets exhaled from a sick person’s mouth and nose, the thinking goes, are heavy, and fall to the ground before they can get much farther than 6 feet.