Frontline workers help India stay safe

Sarjna Rai
Coronavirus: COVID-19 patient being taken to the Hospital. (PTI Photo)

File Photo: COVID-19 patient being taken to the Hospital. (PTI Photo)

The Centre is making efforts to create a larger force to replace the frontline workers engaged in various works to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. The government is offering online training for health workers including doctors and midwives, state officials, police organisations like NCC, NSS, and other volunteers to help in COVID-19 relief.

The online platform, iGOT or Integrated Govt. Online Training, will be hosted on the Human Resources Development Ministry’s DIKSHA platform.

But even as their replacements arrive, for now the challenges for the health workers combating the pandemic are immense, given that the enemy still remains largely unknown.

In their daily fight in attending to the patients afflicted by the virus, the doctors say that the government has been really helpful.

A resident doctor at the Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital who doesn’t want to be named says, “After the initial difficulty in getting enough PPE suits, there has been no problem in getting proper safety equipment for the doctors.”

Right now, however, doctors say their main concern is about being unable to treat other serious cases, like heart patients and cancer patients, given that hospitals have shut down OPD services to combat the coronavirus.

But shouldering the burden of the COVID-19 battle are not only the healthcare personnel, but also the many people who are engaged in sanitation, manning grocery stores, selling fruits and vegetables and making deliveries.

The risk of exposure is high for fruits and vegetable sellers as well. Having to interact closely with wholesale dealers and customers, they are vulnerable to infection.

“People are also adamant and don’t follow social-distancing. They come out for unnecessary walks on the pretext of buying groceries or vegetables. They need to understand the gravity of the situation”, says Mohan, a vegetable stall owner in Central Delhi.

Food-delivery apps are also continuing their operations to enable home delivery of food items. While their effort is to retain customer loyalty, the delivery personnel are at constant risk of infection.

“These are hard times. We are on duty, but people are scared so they don’t place orders. That affects our salary. We keep waiting all day and are also scared of catching the infection. But we have to think of our livelihood,” says Dilip, a delivery personnel.

In the days of the lockdown, civic staff including sweepers, security guards and cleaning staff, are out all on duty, cleaning up the city and keeping us safe.

While they are all earning a living, it’s important to remember that it is their efforts that are making the “stay safe at home” possible for everyone.