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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Omar Abdullah: ‘During lockdown, had bubble of two-three homes, kept meeting’

Former Union minister Omar Abdullah says while he has been taking precautions during the pandemic, “ I do not sit and obsess about it.”

Written by Bashaarat Masood | Srinagar | Updated: October 18, 2020 9:36:09 am
Omar Abdullah, Omar Abdullah news, Omar Abdullah isolation, kashmir covid-19 cases, coronavirus isolation, coronavirus covid 19 newsOmar Abdullah (Illustration: Suvajit Dey)

In late March, just as the first phase of the coronavirus lockdown was being enforced, Omar Abdullah, 50, was released from detention after nearly eight months. In the past week, the former J&K chief minister’s party, the National Conference, has joined an alliance to seek restoration of the erstwhile state’s special position before August 5, 2019. The former Union minister says while he has been taking precautions during the pandemic, “ I do not sit and obsess about it.”

What precautions are you taking?

The basic precautions that were recommended by the health authorities — social distancing, use of a mask and sometimes a shield as well. I regularly wash my hands with soap for the recommended 20 seconds and also use sanitiser when required.

Have you got yourself tested for Covid-19?

Yes, about six or seven times. Most of these tests were because of flights back to Srinagar and the compulsory tests at the airport, but one or two were also because of contact with people who turned out to be Covid-19 positive.

Did you have to isolate yourself?

I was not required to be in self-isolation, and so thankfully, I have been able to remain with family. After the lockdown eased, I was able to resume some semblance of travel and work. Even during the most stringent stage of the lockdown, we maintained a ‘Covid-19 bubble’ of two-three households of the immediate family and were able to spend time together.

What kind of gloves, mask do you use?

I have not used gloves at all. I do use a mask. In the beginning I used medical grade masks purchased from a chemist shop. Recently, cloth masks have become available. I ordered some that I had seen on Instagram. My sister Sara runs an NGO and they stitch nice cloth masks which my father and I both use.

At work, what precautions do you take?

Social distancing, no physical contact at all, limit on the number of people in a room at any one time and regular hand washing… All the recommended precautions that need to be taken. Wherever possible, interactions have been done using technology like Zoom meetings and WhatsApp video calls.

Have you had to stay away from family?

I was unable to see my family in Delhi for more than two months because of the pandemic.

Do you take any specific precautions while you travel?

Apart from the recommended precautions that needed to be followed — a mask and shield with regular use of sanitiser — I also wipe and clean down surfaces near me.

How much time do you spend in front of a screen?

It depends what you mean by screen. I see movies and TV shows for an hour or two in the evening. I log on to social media off and on during the day. I also read on a Kindle so that accounts for another hour or two.

How do you keep your mind off the pandemic?

I don’t make any conscious effort to distract myself from the pandemic. Covid-19 is a reality that we have to live with… I do not sit and obsess about it. As long as we follow basic precautions there is no reason at all to live in fear….

What is the first thing you want to do when the pandemic is past?

Take a holiday to somewhere nice. Between my detention and the Covid-19 restrictions, I haven’t been able to travel anywhere for more than a year.

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