Despite Loss Of Livelihoods, Workers Support Lockdown Extension: NCAER

As many as 87% of respondents expressed support for an extension of the lockdown for two weeks beyond April 14, 2020, with 62% strongly supporting the extension. This is despite the fact that nearly 55% of respondents said the pandemic had reduced income or wages “very much”, a survey by National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) has found.

The Delhi-based public policy think-tank conducted a survey (DCVTS) with a representative random sample of some 1,750 adults covering the entire Delhi-National Capital Region during April 3-6, 2020, in which it asked people about the impact of the lockdown and people’s knowledge of the novel coronavirus.

Only 15% of households reported that the coronavirus pandemic has not reduced their income or wages in the two weeks preceding the survey, while 74% of casual workers reported that their income and wages had suffered “very much”. The corresponding figures were lower for regular salaried workers (47%) and farmers (42%).

It is possible that the effect on farmers could be greater after the harvesting season is over (towards the end of April or May 2020), given that the lockdown and social distancing may make it difficult for farmers to sell and deliver their produce, NCAER said.

The impact of the lockdown has also reduced people’s ability to access essential items. In the two weeks prior to the survey, about 29% of households faced shortage of food, cooking fuel and medicine. Moreover, rural areas faced more supply shortages (33% respondents) than urban areas (25%). Item-wise data show that 21% of respondents experienced shortage of vegetables and fruits (25% in rural areas and 15% in urban areas), followed by shortages of grains and cereals (14%), medicines (9%), cooking fuel (8%) and milk (7%). Difficulty in accessing medicines could lead to serious health implications going forward, especially if these shortages worsen over time.

Meanwhile, 36.4% of the respondents were able to identify all three main symptoms of COVID-19--fever, cough and breathing difficulties--while 85% were aware of fever and cough. A majority (55%) were not aware of breathlessness as a symptom. This suggests that people’s ability to distinguish COVID-19 from the common cold or flu will not be easy, implying the critical need for more testing of symptomatic cases and cluster testing, NCAER said.

More than half the respondents (53%) said they had had no contact at all outside their homes the previous day. About 36% said in the past two weeks they and their family had curtailed going to a health facility for a medical condition other than a suspected COVID-19 infection.

Next Story