We all got aware of Corona some time in February but never realized the severity of the situation until the first week of March. The first difficult decision that was taken by the EC at that time was the cancellation of the much-awaited Holi bash on March 9th. The reality check was when schools suddenly closed without even conducting exams! That’s when the severity of the situation started sinking in.
At that time, EC Secretary Kartikeya Khanna proposed that there should be a dedicated team to manage Corona pandemic and the resulting committee was his brainchild. Thus, on March 17th a team called COVID Health Committee was formed comprising with Dr Shankar, Dr Divya Chavan, Dr Mahua Sinha, Dr Rashi, Kartikeya Khanna, Palak Shah, Sonal Sharma, Col Prasanna Kumar, Mogishuddin Raza, Bharath Gowda, UV Kini Sir, Nitesh Bhat, Shyam Prakash (Property Manager), Brahmesh (APM), Thimme Gowda (Security Officer) and Pramod (Security Supervisor). It was a well-coordinated team with doctors guiding through protocols & guidelines issued by government, EC members giving feedback regarding strategy and bringing out advisories from time to time along with the Property Management team actively executing the directives.
Next came the herculean task of quarantining people who have travelled. We made an open communication channel through firstname.lastname@example.org, through which we sent out advisories asking people to self-declare their arrival and anyone who knew about people who had travelled could intimate us through e-mail. In addition to that, strict instructions were given to security at main gate and at tower level to report people arriving with luggage, etc.
It was surprising and heartening to see many people self-declare their status and thus we had 29 families in quarantine. Each family received a set of self-declaration forms along with guidelines protocol to be followed. In the meantime, we also made a practice of calling each of these families every 3-4 days, enquiring on how they were coping, if they had any symptoms, if they needed any help, etc.
Some of the health team members even did the grocery shopping for few of the families and delivered to their door. The govt health authorities also started similar initiatives later, so we felt good to be the early adopters. 😊 The govt then started stamping the rear of the palm of the quarantined residents and continued the follow ups. Few members of the HC were in constant touch with Begur PHC doctors, ASHA workers, and surveillance officers as we were mutually dependent.
There were also times when Govt health workers would visit these quarantined families and HC members would accompany them irrespective of the fact that they were taking risk. One time, an ASHA worker was asked to complete a house to house survey of all 1800 Homes in WH. Again the HC offered to do online survey and submitted the results and the government authorities were pleased and appreciated the HC for diligently carrying out their duties.
Soon after this, total lockdown was announced. Handwashing, temperature check, mask wearing were made mandatory. Abiding to that we restricted entries of maids, cooks, car cleaners, carpenters, iron-walas and all service staff. All entries were documented in the entry register to aid contact tracing. All exits were also tracked and home delivery was restricted to only essential supplies like milk, newspaper and gas cylinders.
All grocery deliveries were restricted to tower level and food deliveries like Zomato, Swiggy, etc were restricted to main gate. Walking was restricted and the parks were closed. With the situation so grim and the regular home delivery agencies like Big Basket, neighboring super markets not home delivering, HC and EC were concerned about the need of essential goods like groceries and vegetables. There was additional risk if residents ventured out. Hundreds of residents going out for groceries every day, contacting many vendors and returning was a high risk for the community as a whole.
This is where the Vendor Sub-Committee of EC stepped in. They connected with vendors supplying to other apartment complexes, negotiated based on quality, logistics, pricing, etc and arranged for the same.
The residents seamlessly started getting access to vegetables, groceries and fruits inside the apartment complex, which felt safer and more secure than the alternative.
When the vendors arrived, the HC members personally enforced safety measures like handwashing, etc. They ensured everyone wore masks and social distancing was maintained by placing chairs apart so that the wait though long was not exhausting. There were a few families who were in dire need of support staff due to health reasons or totally unattended senior citizens. We requested such people to write to us at email@example.com with supporting documents and they were provided access to support staff, after strictly ensuring the residence proof, temperature check, etc and other measures were duly followed.
The EC & HC together periodically released carefully drafted and thought out advisories to alleviate the anxiety of the residents and to also announce the restrictions, relaxations, availability of vendors, count of quarantined families etc.
The Munaadi : Interestingly EC Secretary Kartikeya Khanna also had news related to COVID publicly announced by security staff, with a battery-operated speaker held on a cycle walking through the campus. The security staff, housekeeping staff and VRFS team worked in full force even at the worse possible times. Arrangements were made here in the residential complex for staffs who could not go back home including food. Few of our resident volunteers provided tea, food to our support staff…we are ever grateful to them.
With the lock down eased by government, we also released the restrictions and allowed walking with social distancing and allowed maids on individual discretion. We have moved from the country and the society to the individual in terms of risk mitigation and responsibilities. Now the onus is mainly focused on individuals. I was very happy to see how the residents co-operated and came together in times of crisis and supported each other during these difficult times. Going forward the HC and EC still has many more duties to perform, to ensure the safety of the community and our residents.
The story is not over yet. These are hard and uncertain times for all of us, but together with the help of the community I am sure we will prevail.