Many apartment complexes in Hyderabad stop delivery of newspapers fearing COVID-19 spread

In the wake of reports and rumours that coronavirus may stay on surface of paper, several residential welfare associations have decided not to allow newspaper delivery men into their complexes. / Representational image only.  

Despite online editions, a hard copy of a newspaper is still preferred by many along with their morning cuppa or brew for their day’s start.

Yet social distancing and lock down has seen many citizens, more so those living in apartment complexes and gated communities to do away with the delivery of newspapers at their door step, for the time being.

Milk and veggies washable

While there are no restrictions on the delivery of other essential goods like milk, vegetables, etc. because they say milk packets and vegetables can be washed thoroughly, thus there is no risk of the virus spreading.

In the wake of reports and rumours that coronavirus may stay on surface of paper, cardboard for several hours - though there is no concrete evidence - managing committees of several residential welfare associations have decided not to allow newspaper delivery men into their complexes and gated communities just to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus.

WHO says its safe

But here is a myth shatterer. On whether it was safe to receive a package from any area where COVID-19 has been reported, the World Health Organisation (WHO) answered: “The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes coronavirus (COVID-19) from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.”

Mr. Dhruv , a resident of a gated community, says newspapers are part of essential service and they need to be be allowed. In the absence of newspapers, one will be forced to depend on social media from where all kinds of rumours too get forwarded creating confusion and to keep newspapers away is one such suggestion doing rounds in the social media. “The delivery boys could be asked to drop the papers at a designated place and leave without going to every door step in a residential complex as an alternative,” he says.

Doubting Thomases

But not every resident concurs. Mr. Raman, another resident says every newspaper has an online edition to get authentic news. In these extraordinary times, one should be prepared for some disruption in routine life.

“There is nothing wrong in being extra cautious and avoid physical newspapers that will be brought from outside by various persons who may or may not be carriers of virus. Let’s read newspapers online for the next few weeks,” Mr Raman says.

Delivery boys beaten up

Meanwhile, newspaper agents and vendors too are facing problems. “Our delivery boys are being stopped and beaten up by police for being on the roads,” he said. This, despite the government announcing that newspapers are modes of credible communication and information to reach the public.

Executives of newspaper organisations who were on the city’s roads to ensure distribution at key pick up points up too had to taste the high-handed behaviour of police, a news agent said. Another agent said they stopped delivery to some residential complexes as they were asked to suspend distribution by the representatives of residential welfare associations. “We are helpless,” he said.

Doctor’s advice

Precautions at a personal level are must, according to K.K. Aggarwal, past national president of the Indian Medical Association. “Newspapers are like any other item or material. Take clothes for instance or books. Viruses can stay on any surfaces. So what can you do? Wash your hands before and after reading newspapers or books,” he adviced.

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Printable version | May 17, 2021 7:02:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/many-city-apartment-complexes-and-gated-communities-suspend-newspaper-delivery/article31159976.ece

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