Updated: Aug 14
Q: When did you first get to know about COVID-19?
Panchayat Secretary: I got to know about it in February, in a meeting conducted by the Block Development Officer for all the Panchayat Secretaries.
Q: What are your COVID-19 related tasks?
Panchayat Secretary: I have been asked to identify people who are arriving from outside, and send a list of these people to the department so as to get them tested. If I find any COVID-19 suspect, I have to inform the Health Department.
Among my other tasks is to raise awareness about the virus among people.
Q: Are you encountering any challenges?
Panchayat Secretary: We work with people in rural areas and explain to them the importance of social distancing. We ask them to cover their face with the gamcha if there is no mask. However, people are not listening or paying attention to any of this. They believe that there is no need to be scared because 'if we die, we all die together'.
The good thing is that there is no positive case in my district and the bad part is that the villagers do not listen to me.
Q: Have you observed any shortages?
Panchayat Secretary: There is a shortage of ration. People are not getting vegetables also. Due to black marketing, prices of onion and potato have increased.
People who are working on the ground, like the ASHA workers, do not have masks or sanitisers.
This interview was conducted with a Panchayat Secretary in Arwal, Bihar on 15 April 2020 in Hindi, and has been translated.