Streetside dwellers and merchants at high risk to catch COVID

Are these people being tested as well and thereafter being taken to shelter homes?

Abdullah Fahad

Hyderabad: Streets and pavements of an Indian metropolis are bestrewn with beggars, migrants, and merchants alike. Hyderabad is no different.

Unlike some who have an abode to call their own, a dwelling too with a roof to return to after a hard day’s work, or even a full-fledged retail space to conduct business, sidewalks are quite the shelters.

Though the arrival of corona spelled could not have been worse for these folks. Not only does their homelessness derive them of the luxury of social distancing but of the ability to go about their trade. This makes them more vulnerable to both catching and spreading the virus.

The heavy rains that bring about seasonal illnesses do not help either.

This is a very serious matter as there is every possibility of transmitting the virus to people passing by. This is because  maintaining distance in these public places that are  somewhat made private by these unwitting squatters of sorts..

Are these people being tested as well and thereafter being taken to shelter homes?

In a recent incident, an unidentified dead person believed to be a beggar — one who later tested positive — was found lying at a public place in Goa. During a lockdown, people are expected to remain in their homes. But then there are many migrants who do not have a roof over their heads. There are several homeless migrant porters and beggars and those who do odd jobs. These pavement dwellers cannot even visit a hospital if they have a fever.

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Thereby, their plight gives more impetus to COVID-19.

On the home front, a Pan Dabba owner in Yousufguda, Hyderabad tested positive and died after a few days. Who knows how many people around the Dabba caught the virus. “The shop was open till the day of the owner’s death,” said a resident in the same area.

Action needs to be taken sooner rather than later in such crises of the state.

People must wake up now and take some precautions. No one will die if they do not get their fix of paani puris, paans, cigarettes. After surviving these crises, they can go about getting all these.

Until then, the government must take action against paan shops, paani puri chaat bhandar  and  beggars who are oblivious to the situation  all over the country.

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Similarly, a Bharat Nagar vegetable market in Moosapet has been sealed after a vendor, who had tested positive died on June 15. Subsequently, five positive cases have been identified in the nearby vicinity of the market. “He was quarantined since June 2,” said a GHMC official.

Moosapet residents revealed that “The locality and the market were not sanitized properly.”

The government must take action at every public place before any case arises. The precautions are taken after the area and people afflicted. If prior measures n precautions are taken before any case occurs in any public place, the pandemic can be stabilized.

The equipment used for COVID precautions like masks, gloves, and sanitizers is sold on footpaths by vendors who themselves are not donning the proper PPE equipment. These people themselves are vulnerable and they cannot afford expensive equipment sold at any medical store. Plus, the authenticity of PPEs sold on the street is suspect at best.

Such street-side shops must be closed and authentic protective equipment must be made accessible to these people.

Only when gouged into action with these realities can the state move towards stability and better conditions.

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