A 54-year-old Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) sanitation worker in Mumbai's Worli tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday. This comes a day after a man from the Dharavi slum who had contracted novel coronavirus died.
The sanitation worker, who worked as a sweeper, was posted in the Solid Waste Management Department of the BMC and is the second positive case from Worli. He would however, go to work near the Mahim Fatak road in Dharavi.
He was admitted to Seven Hills Hospital on Monday after he showed symptoms of COVID-19. His condition, as of now, is stable. His family members and 23 colleagues have been asked to be in quarantine.
This case raises concerns amid fears of spread of infection or community transmission after the first casualty was reported in the compact and congested slum in Dharavi.
Sanitation Workers At Risk?
All the front-line soldiers in the country have been during their duties despite a nationwide lockdown. While we sit at our homes with all the necessary equipment to stay safe, these sanitation soldiers are working every day, cleaning our roads, buildings, collecting waste, etc.
The Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday announced that the state government would give Rs 1 crore to the families of healthcare worker or sanitation worker if they die while treating COVID-19 patients.
While the government offers compensation, the focus is missing from preventing the mishap. Government has failed to protect them when they work in hazardous conditions.
The sanitation workers neither have the resources nor the money to protect themselves from deadly diseases or get the necessary medical help. Many of them succumb to several diseases due to poor living conditions and lack of resources.
While we clapped for their selfless efforts, we have not provided them with necessary gear and equipment so far.
In Karnataka, one mask a week, 5-10 km walk to work daily and no access to sanitisers, thousands of pourakarmikas (sanitation workers) in the state lack adequate safety gear to fight the COVID-19.
While we expect them to turn up everyday and do the daily chores, the non-availability of safety gears is often ignored. Only 20% of the civic workers in Karnataka have masks, while sanitisers are given to only 50% of them.
This is not just in Karnataka, but almost in every state in the country. The poorest of poor workers are prone to several infections and diseases throughout the day.
As we continue to rant about the delay in delivery of essential services, the sanitation workers do not get access to something as basic and necessary as safe drinking water and food.
Lack of awareness and inadequate supplies often put this section of the society at risk.
They often carry the stigma of working in unclean environment, low wages and dangerous working conditions that put them at great risk.
Also Read: Mumbai: Dharavi Man With No Travel History Dies Due To COVID-19, Raises Concerns Over Community Transmission