17 teachers, volunteers in door-to-door survey test +ve , says association
Seventeen teachers and volunteers engaged in the Delhi government’s door-to-door Covid-19 survey in Bawana have tested positive for the disease over the past few days, the Delhi MCD teachers’ association said on Friday.
The association said they have written to chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, alleging that all those roped in for the survey were neither provided with adequate safety kits nor was enough precaution taken during the training sessions where people crowded together.
The association demanded safety equipment and exemption for people over the age of 50, pregnant women and those serious co-morbidities -- and threatened to withdraw from the survey if their demands are not met.
The Delhi government spokespersons did not respond to requests for a comment.
Ramnivas Solanki, general secretary of the association, said samples of those deployed for the survey in Bawana in North district were taken on November 24 by district health officials and the report confirming 17 of them positive came on Thursday evening.
A Delhi government teacher who tested positive said, “Three teachers from my school were infected. The training of teachers for the survey on November 19 was conducted in a small school playground where around 200-300 people gathered. There was hardly any space for social distancing. A few days later, I started having symptoms like cold and fatigue. The government should not put us at risk this way.”
The Delhi government had on November 20 started a door-to-door survey to screen people for Covid-19, encourage more testing, and to ascertain the number of high-risk individuals, including the elderly, pregnant women, and those with comorbid conditions.
The survey is expected to cover around 5.8 million people – more than one-fourth of Delhi’s total population of around 20 million – mainly in more than 4,500 containment zones and localities in 11 revenue districts.
According to the association, as many as 15,000 teachers of government schools and 13,000 from municipal schools are involved in Covid-related duties. Civil defence volunteers and home guards too have been involved.
“We were given masks, sanitisers and a pair of gloves. When we are going house to house, in narrow lanes during the entire day, a mask alone is not enough. I bought a face shield and a box of gloves myself. However, I believe coveralls must be provided,” said a volunteer, who did not wish to be named.
Solanki said teachers have been deployed for Covid work without proper safety measures. “Municipal teachers have not been paid for four months and are still working. The government cannot put the families of so many people at risk as it defeats the purpose of the survey itself,” he said.
North Corporation mayor Jai Prakash on Friday said the Delhi government must first conduct Covid tests of teachers, etc., before deploying them for survey work. “There is fear among the teachers and other volunteers as well as their families who are at risk. Prior tests must be carried out,” said Prakash.