The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has millions of people working from home. Mandated by the company or taken as an option, this precautionary measure is a new but much-needed change in our work culture. But self-quarantine does not mean complete isolation from the world. We are still dependent on our domestic help, delivery agents and security personnel who have to report for duty.
In difficult times like these, it’s heartwarming to see that housing societies have stepped up and shouldered the responsibility to ensure the safety of residents, domestic help, security staff as well as delivery agents who enter the society with your food or shopping orders.
Several societies in Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Mumbai and other cities have all geared up in light of COVID-19 and have taken active steps to ensure the people living there stay safe.
Here’s what they are doing amidst the panic of the Coronavirus:
The Basic Steps that Are Common in Most Societies:
- The very first step towards prevention of the coronavirus infection is to spread awareness. The managing committees of housing societies have activated their WhatsApp, Facebook and other social groups with advisories and guidelines about precautionary measures.
- High fever is one of the telling symptoms of Coronavirus and unlike sinusitis, body aches or sore throat, it can be measured very easily and quickly. Several housing societies have thus equipped security personnel with digital, non-contact thermometers. Checking of temperature is mandated at every entry in the society
- At the same time, hand washes and sanitisers are placed at every entrance and common areas of the society. Residents, guests, delivery agents and others are free to use them to prevent the coronavirus infection
Steps to Protect Residents from Coronavirus:
The COVID-19 infection is travelling fast and one needs to be extra cautious since its incubation period is between 2 to 14 days. That means one may have contracted coronavirus today but the symptoms may be evident only after a couple of weeks (this depends from person to person).
Housing societies are thus proactively encouraging residents to not have social gatherings for a few days at least.
Safal Parisar II, a housing complex in Ahmedabad has requested all members who travelled from Gujarat to other parts to submit vital information about their health, travel location and duration etc with their managing committee members.
Chirag Khambati, a member of the managing committee tells The Better India, “We have asked residents to avoid sitting in groups in common areas. Additionally, we sterilise elevator buttons, doorknobs and other common contact points to ensure safety from Coronavirus. Around 6 PM, common areas like the clubhouse are fumigated.”
Two cases of Coronavirus were reported in Ahmedabad as of 20 March and strict measures are necessary to ensure safety.
Mumbai region has reported 18 cases so far and many societies have taken serious measures against the virus there too.
Sucharitha, a resident of a Mumbai highrise says, “After the outbreak, many students studying abroad have travelled back home. Such residents are mandated to have a 14-day self-quarantine. If someone fails to follow this, they are fined Rs 50,000. We shut the gym, swimming pool and open play areas five days ago and have also asked the high-risk groups of children below 10 years and adults above 60 to stay indoors only. To further ensure safety, one of the two sets of elevator buttons are disabled and only the liftman is allowed to use the buttons. He always wears a mask.”
Ensure your Domestic Help is Safe from Coronavirus:
India has confirmed at least 206 positive cases of Coronavirus. Given that the RO number of COVID-19 (the number of people an infected person can potentially infect) is estimated between 1.5 and 3.5, we cannot leave any windows open for the virus to spread.
Domestic workers can be very vulnerable to the viral infection given the number of homes they visit, their commute and their work.
It is thus encouraging to see how housing societies are taking their health into consideration amidst the panic of the pandemic.
My housing society in Bengaluru has instructed all residents to monitor the health of their domestic help daily.
In case of fever, consistent coughing or low energy, it is best to give them paid leave for a few days. And just like you never step outside home without a mask and a sanitiser, please provide people working in your homes with this hygiene necessity. They are still risking their health to show up for their job and it is our duty as employers to do everything in our power to ensure they don’t fall sick because of us.
“The housekeeping staff needs to wash their hands at the entrance of the society. We have given them masks to wear. But just giving these things will not cut it so the staff is informed about Coronavirus in their daily morning meetings by the managing staff,” shares Sucharitha.
Safety of Delivery Agents from Coronavirus:
Your online shopping must have spiked since we all went into self-isolation. Let’s spare a thought for the delivery agents who work on commission basis or on a daily wage. They still ride their bikes in the hot sun, go from house to house, risking their health for our convenience. We need to take active measures to ensure their safety too.
Here are some easy steps you can follow to keep them safe:
- Contactless delivery – Place a basket at your doorstep for the agents to place your parcels in. Make sure your orders are prepaid so there are no cash transactions.
- Establish common points – Sucharitha’s society has stationed staff in the lobby of each wing. Delivery agents drop off the parcels with these staff members and residents are advised to collect it from there to minimise contact.
- Provide hygiene kits – If you are placing baskets at your door, keep a pair of masks and sanitiser too for the delivery agents to take. They have more houses to attend to and this gesture will keep them safe from coronavirus (and frankly, make their day!)
Says Chirag, “Temperature checks are done for vendors and delivery agents at the entrance of our society. If they have a fever, they are asked to not enter the society and rather, residents are called up to receive their parcels.”
Strict measures are necessary to curb the spread of Coronavirus. For a few weeks, we need to be extra vigilant about the things and people we come in contact with. But while you are safeguarding your well-being, let’s not forget those less privileged and make sure they remain fit too. What is your housing society doing differently in these times? Do share with us in the comments.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)