One Meter distance, please; The Virus is around you!!! (By Dr Oscar Rebello)

By Dr Oscar Rebelo
27 March 2020 10:00 IST

26 March 2020, will be the day, officially recognised as the day, our enfant terrible finally visited Goa.

First things first.

There can be no two doubts that the lockdown, called for by PM Modi was nothing short of mandatory.

It may be a severe remedy inconveniencing a lot of us, but this virus is not a Johnny Lever or a miley Cyrus out to entertain us.

It is a Darth Vader, Dracula and Duryodhana put together.

That evil, that diabolical, that evil.

And yes in Goa, thus far, the lockdown has been largely a success.

For once Goans are making an honest effort to reverse their stupidity gene.

But on the sixth day of the lockdown patience even desperation is running thin on the ground.

Mad rush in Goa; this will spread the virus!

We the chattering middle class, could blow up, upwards of Rs 10000 and have the quick wit of raiding the shopping centres and stock up on essentials and even a little caviar and wine to tackle the boredom.

So the war cry 100% lockdown means 100% lockdown resonates.

But not for the vast majority of the lower middle class and the folk on the margins.

They simply do not have the money to stock up for three weeks and are run out of supplies.

This is not  social distancing, this could prove fatal, please.

And when desperate people who can't feed their kids get really desperate they will spill onto the streets.

COVID is a possibility for them. Hunger is a reality staring in their faces especially for their kids.

If Lunknow can do it, why not we in Goa?

There are just three ways the government, any government can mitigate this problem.

1. Ensure home delivery of essentials by volunteers through the public distribution system , but then everything happened so fast and with no system like this still visible on the horizon patience is running out.

2. E delivery.: again this is for the tech savvy, card paying chattering middle class. Makes a lot of sense but teething problem of delivering still happening. And no the poor have no tech and no cards. They still need to walk to their nearest grocery store and purchase small quantities of food because that's all they can afford.

3. Open the grocery stores and super markets. Many say this is akin to open the floodgates. But I don't see any other option but to do so. Surely at a very scientific level , the crowding is going to defeat the very purpose of the curfew.

This is how even the roads are managed in Tirupathi

But as Delhi and Mumbai have demonstrated effectively, if you educate people to enter stores strictly 4 to 5 at a time and keep a mandatory safe distance of 1 metre outside when waiting it is possible to prevent the mayhem and chaos.

And shops must be open 24/ 7 ...not limited windows.

But the onus for this must be on Goans.

No government or cops or security guards can help you if you ain't disciplined yourselves.

We must follow rules tic tac toe.

This is a civic responsibility that sadly does not come easy to us.

Super Stores managed in Italy without police; SELF-RESTRAINT

Do it calmly, do it with decorum and always think of your fellow citizen first.

And this is not the time to clobber the authorities.

Both the CM and HM , who we may have severe political differences otherwise, do not have an easy job on their hands.

The situation is dynamic, it is fluid and it is frightening indeed terrifying.

In West Bengal, CM Mamata Banerjee came on the road & drew circles of social distacing

You must give the authorities some leeway for honest mistakes as long as their intention is right.

But at the end of the day, the ball is squarely in our court.

We need to exercise self-restraint, we need to make sacrifices and we need to be united.( not too united that you keep bombarding me with the same WhatsApp doomsday forwards please. I'm already losing my mind. )

And just to share some positive news by last count ,after asking all my colleagues in government and private hospitals, we have not seen any overwhelming cases of pneumonias and ards patients on ventilators yet

Not the terrifying Bergamo/ NYC / Madrid scenarios yet.

Things could change by next week of course. Or the week after that.

And the nightmare could well begin.

But hope springs eternal in the failing human heart.

Keep safe Goa, Keep the faith Goa but most importantly Keep the darned distance Goa.


Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Dr Oscar Rebelo

Dr Oscar Rebelo is one of the leading social activist of Goa and a practicing doctor. He led the historic peoples’ movement in 2006-07 to get the anti-Goa Regional Plan scrapped and save Goa from total destruction of Goa’s ecology and natural beauty. He is a Goa-based leader of Aam Aadmi Party. He is also a columnist.

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Previous Comments

Thanks Doctor, to the point.

- Sandra , Pune | 27 th March 2020 11:40



Let's hope the message reaches every nook and corner of Goa I know

- Rosario Menezes, Vasco | 27 th March 2020 08:39


Dear Dr. Rebello,

You have hit the right chords to fellow Goans. The sadist and selfish human nature awakens in us humans at these difficult times. I hope your message filters through to the educated citizens of Goa, because if it does the less privileged may also stand to benefit. Hope i get to meet you one day.

- Bharat Bhandare, Bambolim | 27 th March 2020 07:48


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