YourSpace: Pune housing societies turn into Covid-safe fortresses
Advisory for residents helped check spread
We followed all the guidelines issued by the district collector’s office and the state health department to protect the health of residents in our society. Ever since the lockdown, we ensured that residents stayed indoors and even kids were not allowed to play at the open spaces during the initial weeks of Janata curfew to prevent the spread of Covid-19. As per the directions of the union health ministry and Pune district collector, we issued a written Covid-19 advisory to residents. We made provisions for high-quality hand hygiene/sanitiser dispenser which was kept at the entry gate and in work areas of all the building areas of the society. Our advisory gave special attention to the care and safety of those above 65 years of age and those with comorbidity symptoms. We requested that pregnant women and children below the age of 10 should stay at home and keep minimum contact with visitors and guests as a precautionary measure. Thus, we played an active role in creating awareness about the disease. We undertook simple preventive measures that need to be followed and encouraged early reporting of symptoms and tried to clear myths and stigmas related to the virus infection faced by Covid-19 patients, healthcare or other frontline workers. Our society ensured mandatory wearing of masks. Though there some violations at the premises, but gradually, everyone followed it as they knew it was in the interest of their health safety.
Convinced society members to wear face mask
The government advisory requested a thermal screening of visitors, including society staff, which we carried out at the entry point. Only health and asymptomatic persons were allowed to enter the premises. We ensured that vendors, household help, car cleaners, delivery personnel, plumbers and other skilled workers underwent screening daily. The society members ensured that physical distancing of at least six feet was followed as far as feasible at all locations, including common areas, parks, corridors, lift lobbies, gyms, clubhouse and roads. Early morning walkers were initially advised to remain indoors. We faced issues related to residents not wearing masks, but convinced them to follow the rules and they agreed.
All units were under surveillance
We carried out the uphill task of creating awareness and ensuring Covid-19 guidelines were followed. We undertook a generic simple public health measures to reduce the risk of Covid-19 spread and convinced residents, visitors and staff to follow it. The measures included physical distancing, use of face masks and regular handwashing. We stressed for using alcohol-based hand sanitisers for at least 20 seconds. Society members were advised to follow respiratory etiquettes strictly. It involved strict practice of covering one’s mouth and nose while coughing and sneezing with a tissue or a handkerchief/ and disposing of used tissues properly. Also, self-monitoring of health by all and reporting any illnesses at the earliest to the state and district helpline was undertaken. We saw to it that spitting was strictly prohibited and recommended installation and active use of Aarogya Setu app for greater safety of the residents. We encouraged residents to alert us in case any resident reports symptoms suggestive of Covid-19. We disseminated information through notice board, social media and chat groups to the members. We maintained linkages with nearest health facilities to handle any health contingencies. The other important points taken care by us included that all houses were covered under daily surveillance. We facilitated all residents to remain at home and shall only come out for meeting essential requirements. The residents responded wholeheartedly to our call, barring some violations.
Sanjeev Kumar Patil
Common facilities were regularly sanitised
Our residential society made provisions for display of posters on preventive measures about Covid-19, including common signs and symptoms, need for early reporting and sanitisation, at common spaces on premises. We installed sanitiser dispenser at entry points and in work areas. Thermal screening of visitors was carried out at entry points. Social distancing was followed as far as feasible at locations, including common areas like garden, corridors, lift lobbies, gym and club. Large gatherings, parties, functions and prayer meetings are avoided. Specific markings with sufficient distance to manage the queue and ensure social distancing were implemented on the premises. We ensured that seating arrangement in common areas like the garden was to be made in such a way that adequate social distancing was maintained. The number of people in lifts was restricted and social distancing norms were followed. Frequent sanitisation of the common facilities and all points which come into human contact like door handles, benches, elevator buttons, electric switches, railings are carried out. The society management ensured a regular supply of hand sanitiser, soap and running water in common areas and washrooms. Residents took time to follow the norms, but the results have been encouraging.
Encouraged residents to self-report symptoms
We had made the society manager as the Covid-19 coordinator to ensure that all guidelines were followed and gave instructions to the security and other staff to compulsorily wear masks. The society enabled supply of hand sanitisers, clean water to wash hands and ordered everybody to follow social distancing while interacting with people coming from outside such as newspaper vendors or delivery agents.
We urged residents to inform their domestic aid about all safety measures being adopted and make sure he or she observed them as well.
We were not harsh in our implementation and wider dissemination of government orders on society’s WhatsApp group created the desired awareness for Covid-19 protection.
We encouraged residents to self-report symptoms and facilitate their testing, isolation and quarantine of contacts and provided counselling, guidance and support to Covid-19 affected individuals and families. Special attention was given to such households which have no family members to take care of dependants. A risk assessment was undertaken by designated public health authority and accordingly further advice was made regarding the management of a case, his or her contacts and need for disinfection.
If a decision is taken by the public health authority for home quarantine of contacts and home isolation of the patient, the society facilitated those under home quarantine and home isolation to remain within their homes.
We provided the necessary social support to them to avoid stigmatisation of those under home quarantine and isolation.
Instructions given to not socially boycott positive patients
Against the backdrop of the advisory for residential complexes and societies during the pandemic and relaxations in lockdown, we followed the best practices and appealed to residents to follow the rules which they did. In order to stop the spread of Covid-19, the lockdown was implemented in Pune from March 20 and was extended as per the requirement of the government. We regulated our entrance point, observed social distancing, obeyed rules which were to be followed in case of sellers of essential commodities, workers and courier providers. Our main thrust was on raising awareness among residents about how to take care of themselves and others.
We made wearing mask mandatory during entry, installed wash basin and hand sanitiser stand near the entrance and elevator. The health workers sanitised elevators, toilets as well as stairs regularly.
The society checked the body temperature of person entering the society by a thermal gun. For the domestic help, a cloth bag was given to keep personal belongings. They were asked to strictly follow prevention norms. We gave special instructions that coronavirus-infected patient and their family should not face social boycott or feel discriminated. We requested families to take special care of residents with high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and heart ailments.