In the Covid-19 battle, Delhi turns to volunteers | HT Editorial
Last week, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal unveiled a scheme to involve non-governmental organisations (NGOs), volunteers, the National Cadet Corps and National Service Scheme Cadets, and scouts to join the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Asymptomatic individuals and those working for NGOs and within the 18-55 age bracket can join the effort. The volunteers will be deployed to survey suspected cases; strengthen surveillance and management of isolation cases; manage Covid-19 helplines; and assist senior citizens, among other steps.
The capital is facing a crisis. With official figures projecting up to 532,000 Covid-19 cases by the end of July, Delhi needs to massively ramp up its testing and health infrastructure in terms of hospital beds, personal protective equipments, oxygen cylinders and ventilators. It will also need a much larger number of health care personnel. While there can be no substitute for the domain knowledge and skills that doctors, nurses, paramedical staff, and Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) bring to health care, in this time of crisis, additional deployment of personnel to assist is helpful. These volunteers from civil society must be used for two tasks in particular. The first is contact tracing, and the second is ensuring more rigorous surveillance for those in home isolation. Delhi needs all the hands it can get.