Andhra Pradesh, which was marginally better off a few days ago compared to several states with respect to the Coronavirus pandemic is in the grip of the second wave now.
Starting Saturday, as directed by Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, the state will follow night curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
With infections rising by a 10,000 cases daily, the southern state on Saturday recorded 11,698 new cases, increasing its active Covid cases tally over 81,00 while the view of the common man is a little worrisome.
Sending alarm bells ringing, some pilgrims who returned from the Kumbh Mela have also turned positive in villages such as Seesali, Yelurupadu and others and their exact numbers are not known yet.
“The situation is worse right now. Business is completely down as fear gripped public minds and curfew will start from Saturday,” told Miriyala Avinash to IANS, general manager of M6 Kitchen and Lounge in Rajamahendravaram.
Avinash highlighted that restaurants are worse off compared to other industries as they depend on people to visit them. He particularly pointed out the curfew times and said that the inflow of guests in restaurants is generally lesser during the day compared to evenings and nights, a time which now clashes with the curfew.
The hospitality professional said his restaurant used to do business of more than Rs 1 lakh during night time, compared to less than one-tenth of it during the whole day recently.
He noted that Covid is wreaking havoc with many restaurants, whose owners invested precious capital thinking that the pandemic is over.
“Government gives relief and relaxation to all industries but nothing to the hotel industry or its employees,” lamented Avinash.
Since two days, he said most of the demand vanished owing to the severity of Coronavirus second wave.
Not just demand in restaurants, even the traffic and movement of vehicles on the roads has drastically reduced in the past few days, indicating falling economic activity.
Movement of vehicles on the roads was showing signs of slow recovery after infections started falling at the end of second wave in 2020, all of which has been massively interrupted now.
At many places in AP, police have already started instructing some commercial establishments to shut shops around 6 p.m., even before the night curfew was announced, bringing back not so long ago memories of the 2020 lockdown.
Meanwhile, the southern state is witnessing examination politics amid surging cases. Though the state government cancelled examinations for all students from classes I to IX and promoted them to the next class, it decided to stick to the examinations for Xth, intermediate, degree and engineering courses.
Recently, Education Minister Adimulapu Suresh said the state government is striving to salvage the academic years of Xth standard and intermediate students by conducting examinations, duly following the coronavirus protocols.
However, several opposition leaders demanded otherwise, especially Telugu Desam Party (TDP) national general secretary Nara Lokesh, who gave 48-hour ‘deadline’ to the government.
“It seemed that CM Jagan Reddy had taken an even more stubborn attitude with total disregard for the safety of the students. This is why this chief minister was being called ‘murkhapu Reddy’ (headstrong CM) who was only concerned about his comfort and safety but not the general wellbeing of the people,” slammed Lokesh.
The second-in-command of TDP also alleged that there is a shortage of beds, oxygen and rising deaths.
Despite these accusations and fears, Principal Secretary (Medical, Health and Family Welfare) Anil Kumar Singhal recently said that the Covid situation in the state is under control.
For the moment, the state is saved from the horrific scenes being witnessed in larger cities such as Delhi, Mumbai and others, maybe the lack of a large city of that kind and all the trappings which come from such geographies may be helping.
How resiliently AP will weather the second wave of the Covid storm can be scrutinised in the coming weeks.
On Friday, the chief minister emerged as one of the first to announce free vaccination for all in the state, which will turn out to be a boon.
(Sharon Thambala can be contacted at email@example.com)