The Delhi government’s team of ‘corona warriors’, comprising personnel from police, anganwadis and civic bodies, have a new task at hand — checking on every resident aged 60 or above and red-flagging those with serious medical conditions.
The decision was taken after a Delhi Health Department analysis found that of the 48 COVID-19 deaths registered in the city, 25 were aged 60 and above. An overwhelming 88% had comorbidities or pre-existing ailments, which aggravated their conditions.
During his daily briefing Tuesday, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also shared the concern, appealing to people falling in this age bracket to remain indoors. The CM said they need to take “special care” of their health to avoid complications.
Senior officials told The Indian Express that the move to utilise the services of the ‘corona foot warriors containment and surveillance teams’ — which are multi-sectoral teams constituted at the level of all 13,750 polling booths in the city — stems from that concern.
According to an order issued by Chief Secretary Vijay Dev, the teams, which are headed by booth-level officers (BLOs), are expected to have one civil defence volunteer, ASHA/anganwadi worker, MCD sanitation worker and a Delhi Police beat constable.
Senior IAS officer Sanjay Goel, state-level coordinator of the teams, said they have already started collecting data at the ground level. “Each BLO has a list of voters in their jurisdiction. Using the rolls, they have been asked to call up residents aged 60 or above and ask if they have any medical conditions or not. Every person with a medical condition will be red-flagged. The names will be shared with the health department and the district magistrates concerned,” said Goel.
He added that the teams will then recommend that those red-flagged in the rolls be tested first when samples are collected from the respective areas. The Delhi government has started rapid antibody tests at a limited scale, as well as random RT-PCR tests at the community level.
During the last Lok Sabha polls, there were 18.5 lakh voters in Delhi aged 60 and above. As on April 22, Delhi had registered 2,248 COVID-19 cases, of which 1,464 patients were aged less than 50, 359 between 50-59 and 425 aged 60 or above. So far, 724 patients have recovered while 48 have died.
Kejriwal said co-morbidities among the dead include diabetes, cancer, heart and respiratory ailments. “That is why I have been stressing please take proper care of the elderly and people with health complications. Especially those aged above 60,” he said.
Other tasks the teams of corona warriors are expected to carry out include making calls to households in their jurisdictions to enquire about the well-being of people, availability of essential items, and advising them to wear masks and ensure social distancing.
“They shall also inquire with the household whether they know of any suspected corona case in their neighbourhood. The teams shall also do foot patrolling and visit each household as per their own schedule on a daily basis and identify suspected corona patients, if any. In case any suspected case is identified, to carry out the protocol already circulated for a suspect, including quarantine, testing, tie-up with doctors, etc,” the order constituting the teams states.
Goel said not every team has five members as in many cases, ASHA workers also happen to be the local BLOs. “Each team has around 500 households under their jurisdiction. They generally manage to cover around 50 households in a day, through telephone calls and visits,” he said. The teams have also been asked to encourage people to download the Aarogya Setu app.
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