To bolster its efforts to protect elderly people from Covid-19, the West Bengal government has decided to create a database of senior citizens living on their own in the Howrah, Kolkata and Bidhannagar commissionerate areas.
The municipalities in these areas will soon conduct a survey to collect the senior citizens’ information. They will regularly monitor them, and provide support when needed. According to officials, a high proportion of infected people in these areas live in high-rises. That is why an emphasis will be placed on collecting information about old people staying in apartment complexes.
The decision to set up the database was taken at a meeting on Friday attended by Home Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay — who is the Covid-19 nodal officer for Kolkata — Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim, city Commissioner of Police Anuj Sharma, and their counterparts in Bidhannagar and Howrah. On Thursday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee hadinstructed the state administration to reach out to senior citizens living alone instead of reacting during emergencies.
“Elderly people are more vulnerable to Covid-19. There is a need to reach out to such elderly people living in these high-rises, many of whom stay alone. The police and KMC officials will collate all information regarding them ward wise. We will also inform them about the numbers to reach out to incase of emergency. We will also seek the help of the resident welfare associations,” said Hakim.
The Department of Health would create the primary database by integrating the information already collected for Kolkata Police’s “Pranaam” project for the elderly, and similar databases created in Howrah and Bidhannagar for the “Sanjhbati’ and “Shraddha” projects, said Bandyopadhyay.
Municipality teams, accompanied by officials from the local police station, will conduct the survey. They will be asked to visit housing complexes, especially those in containment zones, to gather first-hand information about senior citizens living there.
This database will contain their phone numbers, and details of their health conditions and other requirements. The Department of Health will provide necessary support, and ambulances during emergencies. The police will also constantly monitor the senior citizens.
A senior Department of Health official said, “In Kolkata, Bidhannagar and Howrah, most Covid-infected people are in housing complexes and flats where elderly people stay alone. So, we are very much worried as these elderly people are more vulnerable to Covid-19. If we can constantly monitor them, and provide necessary support, not only can we contain the infection numbers, we can also minimise the fatality rate. If we maintain constant vigil, we will also be able to provide them necessary ration supplies, medicines, and other health support, including hospitalisation.”
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