Until January 2020, everyone was busy setting goals for the new year – where to travel, what to buy, what to do, etc. All of a sudden, in the midst of our planning, a virus came in and threatened everyone. We are talking about the time when coronavirus entered India. No one knew that their life was going to take a 360-degree turn from that point and all of their plans would remain plans for a much longer time than they were thinking of.
By the end of February, our country started understanding the severity of this virus and by March, offices were closed and work from home started. It was in the last week of March 2020 i.e. on 24th March that a complete lockdown was announced in India. By this time, the whole world was in the grip of COVID-19. People all over the world were imprisoned in their homes. Many iconic streets of metropolitan cities went silent. Flights were stopped. Even, for the first time in the history of India, all train services were stopped.
This period will stay in our memory for the rest of our lives. In this article, we’ll tell you the story of COVID-19, and share information on how to stay safe during this time.
What is the history of Coronavirus?
COVID-19 is caused by a virus – Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The disease that started in Wuhan, China in December 2019 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 11 March 2020.
In 2020, coronavirus caused an uproar around the world. Millions of people got affected by the disease and many died. Most of the casualties were in Europe and American countries. The situation got worse in several countries as people were not even getting beds in the hospitals.
In India, the second wave of coronavirus caused more damage. The second wave, which came in mid-2021, i.e. in June, broke the Indian health system. The hospitals overflowed with patients and the lack of oxygen made the situation even worse. Every day, lakhs of people got infected and thousands died.
In November 2021, another variant of COVID-19, Omicron appeared in South Africa and it has now engulfed the whole world. Along with imposing a night curfew in India, various precautionary measures are being adopted. COVID-19 cases are still coming up in huge numbers in India. The only consolation is that this time the death toll is not that frightening.
How does coronavirus spread?
COVID-19 can be transmitted from one infected person to another. When a person infected with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes, or exhales, the disease can spread to others in the form of small droplets released from their nose or mouth. These tiny droplets also fall on the surfaces around the infected person. When another person comes in contact with that surface or object, they also get infected with the virus.
People can also get infected by inhaling the droplets released by coughing or exhaling an infected person. Hence, in this disease, it is important to maintain a distance of 3-6 feet or 1-2 meters from the sick person.
How to avoid coronavirus infection?
- Avoid going to crowded places.
- Avoid any kind of contact.
- Cover your face while coughing.
- Avoid touching your nose, ears, and mouth.
- Wash your hands often.
- Wash hands with soap and water.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
How to stop the virus from spreading?
- Keep a tissue in front of your mouth while sneezing or coughing. If there is no tissue, then sneeze or cough into your elbow.
- If a tissue is used, dispose of it as soon as possible. By not doing so, the virus present in it can infect others.
- Follow the rules of social distancing. Stay at least two meters away from each other under social distancing.
- Apart from this, it has been advised that people should stay in their homes and not leave the homes unless it is very important.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) said that people should refrain from shaking hands. Instead, greet with a ‘safe-greeting’ such as a namaste or a wave.
COVID’s hit on mandis
While 2021 was a difficult year due to COVID’s second wave, the year 2022 has witnessed a rapid growth of the Omicron variant. The World Health Organization has named this new variant as B.1.1.529 Omicron. Also, in the past two years, traders suffered a lot due to lockdowns and various restrictions. Many businesses were closed, millions of jobs were snatched away. Mandi businesses were no exception.
In the year 2020, due to complete lockdown, farmers even had to sell their crops at throwaway prices. Traders of wholesale markets faced problems due to the non-availability of labor and means of transport. In the 2 months of complete lockdown, the mandi trade got badly affected. However, when the lockdown was eased, the trade of fruits and vegetables was exempted for being essential items.
Problems didn’t end here. Not only the risk of coronavirus was bothering traders and commission agents; they were also stressed out due to the low prices of crops. As restaurants and markets were closed, the crop rates were reduced to less than half.
People were scared of losing their jobs and hence were spending economically. Both commission agents and farmers had no arrangements for storing the crops grown in surplus, nor any concrete way of transporting them.
Farmers from a mandi were not able to reach other mandis. Also, the traders from outside were not able to reach farmers. In this way, the havoc of coronavirus has broken the back of agriculture and other sectors.
Mandi trade and Omicron
State governments issued many rules and guidelines to prevent the threat of Omicron from spreading in mandis. Most of these rules are the same as during the first and second waves of coronavirus.
All these guidelines are considered effective for Omicron and other variants of coronavirus. However, the government has implemented certain rules for the Mandi traders only. The government gave instructions to the local officials to talk to the mandi traders. In this conversation, officials have to determine the hours traders are working for in mandis during the omicron situation. Also, they have to demonstrate to the traders how they should do business in mandis in pandemic times.
It is because of these efforts of the government that the three waves of coronavirus were not able to affect the supply chain of the Agri sector much. These efforts have gained momentum with the arrival of Omicron. State governments started the drive in their own unique ways.
After the curfew was imposed in Delhi in January 2022, Azadpur Mandi authorities immediately got involved in handling the Omicron situation. As soon as the curfew was announced, the Mandi Committee started giving weekend passes. The committee issued two types of passes.
One pass is given to those who deliver goods to the mandi. While the other pass has been given to the mandi traders and their employees. It ensures that there is no shortage of goods in the mandis. Also, this step helps prevent any impact on the prices of fruits and vegetable trading in mandis.
Local authorities often speak with Delhi Police to ensure everything goes as per the rules in the coming weeks. Apart from this, masks have been distributed to the mandi traders, and strict instructions are given to them to follow the rules. The committee has decided to take strict action against those who violate the rules.
In Haryana also, the government has issued rules to fight against Omicron. Most of these rules are the same as those adopted when the first and second waves of coronavirus came. However, the arrival of Omicron has made the Haryana government more alert than ever.
For the vegetable and grain market, the Haryana government has implemented a rule in which only people who have got both vaccines can go to the market. In this way, the threat of Omicron in the mandis can be avoided.
Like Delhi and Haryana, Kerala has also imposed some restrictions in view of the increasing cases of Omicron. Every day about 300 trucks carrying goods from Mysore mandis reach the mandis of Kerala. This fulfills the state’s food requirements, however, after Omicron came, Kerala has banned this movement.
Now a much lesser number of trucks are able to enter inside the Kerala border than before. Due to this ban on the movement of trucks, there has been a slight jump in the prices of food items. However, this step is considered necessary to prevent Omicron from hitting Kerala.
Not just in state government, Omicron awareness can also be seen among vegetable vendors. An example of this has been found in Mumbai. Vegetable vendors of Byculla mandi are putting up banners of ‘No Mask, No Vegetable’ outside their shops in Mumbai.
Buyers and the general public keep visiting this mandi throughout the day. Many of them are seen violating the rules imposed by the government. Now traders have started asking people to leave if they are without masks. Whoever is not wearing a mask will not be given vegetables at all.
How to keep safe from Omicron?
Measures to avoid Omicron are the same as for coronavirus. For example, not going out of your house, keeping a distance of 6 feet, covering your nose and mouth, not leaving the house unnecessarily, using sanitizer, and avoiding going to crowded places.
Omicron in 110 countries
Omicron has taken a terrible turn. It can easily be explained by the figures shown by World Health Organization. According to the WHO, by 22 December 2021, Omicron had spread to 110 countries. All six continents of the world are the victims of Omicron.
It is believed that the Omicron variant is more dangerous than the Delta variant that surfaced last year. This is the reason why the risk of community spread from Omicron is very high, especially in the countries where there is a history of community spread. Even though the death toll due to Omicron is low as of now, it is believed that this is due to the fact that most of the people have been vaccinated by now. But still, the arrival of Omicron along with the ongoing coronavirus threat is definitely a matter of concern.
Guidelines for International travels in Omicron situation
In view of the increasing Omicron cases, the Government of India issued guidelines for people arriving from other countries.
- Travellers infected by Omicron should strictly follow the home isolation rules. Medicines need to be taken till tested negative.
- International travellers who test negative will be sent for home quarantine for seven days. On the eighth day, they will be retested and If the report comes out negative again, they will be allowed to self-monitor for the next 7 days of in-home quarantine.
- RT-PCR test will be done for 2% of passengers coming from countries outside the risk zone. They are allowed to leave after giving samples.
- If positive, samples will be sent for genomic surveillance. Treatment will be done as per the standard protocols. In case of negative results, self-monitoring needs to be done for 14 days.
What are the symptoms and warning signs of Omicron?
Are the symptoms of the Omicron and Delta variants the same?
The symptoms of Delta and Omicron are largely the same. Not just in India, the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is in the news all over the world. Due to its increasing numbers, the government has asked people to adopt certain safety measures including social distancing, wearing masks, etc.
People infected with Omicron usually complain about chills. Other symptoms include sore throat, runny nose, and headache.
However, people infected with the Delta variant lost their sense of smell and taste. They also complained about cough and high fever.
How effective is Booster Dose to beat Omicron?
In 2021, when the second wave of coronavirus arrived in India, most people were planning to get their first vaccine shots. So far, more than one crore people have been fully vaccinated. During the second wave, the number of deaths was increased. Doctors advised people to get their vaccinations done as soon as possible. However, in December 2021, the government has started giving booster doses in view of the Omicron variant of coronavirus. At present, this vaccine is being given to front workers and senior citizens only. Although there is no guarantee that the vaccinated ones will not be infected with COVID-19, people can at least be saved from going to the hospital.
How COVID-19 has changed our lives?
COVID-19 has changed our lives in the past two years. While we have become more conscious about health, our dependence on the Internet has also increased. The way offices used to operate earlier has changed. Companies have now adopted the work from home (WFH) option keeping in mind the safety of their employees. The Internet has made it possible.
There is a need to bring the same revolution in the mandi business as well. It means mandi traders should not leave their homes unless it’s urgent and it should not impact their work. It is important to make good use of the internet in the mandi business. From mandi accounting to managing the salaries of employees, trading with farmers, information about goods, etc., – all need to be done with the Internet i.e. digitally. It will not only make the task easier but faster as well.
How Bijak App and ChargeERP can help during this time.
Nowadays many startups have joined the Agri-tech sector. They are providing help not only to the farmers but also to other stakeholders associated with agriculture. With their efforts, traders from Kashmir can connect with the traders of Kanyakumari. In fact, agri-traders located in every corner of the country are able to spread their business with the help of certain agri-trading apps. Whether it is about knowing the rates of commodities in mandis all over the country, connecting with the agri-traders of other mandis, or booking a truck for sending all the goods, there’s an app for all. One of the biggest agri-trading app is Bijak. The app is designed to ease the lives of agri-traders including buyers and suppliers and help them in expanding their businesses. You may call at 8588998844 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You could also download the app from Google Playstore and Apple App Store.
Bijak also understands the traditional bookkeeping practices of commission agents and the associated hassles, especially during this time. They have come up with ChargeERP. ChargeERP accounting software has been designed keeping in mind the daily interactions of commission agents in agricultural mandis. It is a cloud-based accounting software introduced with the core aim of reducing the agent’s workload. ChargeERP is the easiest, fastest and most secure mandi accounting software available in India. One of the many benefits of this platform is that it can be accessed from anywhere and from multiple devices. It provides data security with end-to-end encryption. Plus, it doesn’t require any kind of technical or accounting expertise. If you are looking to explore more about this next-level accounting software, feel free to dial +91 9311341199 or visit www.chargeerp.com, and request your free demo today.