Shortage of health workers, many of whom are overburdened, owing to COVID-19 has led to poor sanitation in some of the divisions of Chittoor Municipal Corporation and several municipalities in the last one month.
The COVID situation in the Chittoor Municipal Corporation, which remained considerably under control till mid-April with daily cases between 70 and 150, went out of control at the end of the month with the daily cases crossing the 200-mark.
The corporation with 50 divisions has close to 50 containment zones. With pressure mounting from the recently elected corporators, officials of the sanitation wing are finding it tough to carry out the twin responsibilities of disinfecting the areas from where COVID cases are being reported, and the daily routine of garbage collection and clearing sewage.
Sanitary Inspector K. Chinnaiah said that in order to check the pandemic, two jumbo disinfectant sprayers were working round the clock to match the constantly increasing daily cases. He said that the workload on the health workers had increased in recent weeks with sudden spike of cases.
“Due to this, it’s true that the public sanitation is taking a backseat in some areas. But, we are doing our best to remove the garbage and clear sewage lines. Of the 500-plus workers, including the permanent and outsourcing staff, on any given day, 90% of them are working,” he said.
In several municipalities, the collection of domestic waste is done on alternate days due to shortage of workforce.
In Kuppam, which recently became a municipality, there is acute shortage of health workers. Though collection of waste was done on alternate days before the lockdown in March last year, residents say it was not seen since the outbreak of the pandemic. Several wards and public places are seen with clogged drains and piling up of garbage dumps.
This scenario is attributed to overburdening of the health workers, diverted to COVID duties as the number of daily cases remained close to 100 since a week, as against less than 20 in early April.
Similar situation is reported from Madanapalle, Palamaner, Puttur and Nagari. However, at many places, residents say that in spite of the shortage of workforce, the health workers were seen working relentlessly.
“The workload is almost stifling. The daily cases close to 100 is disturbing and performing COVID duties in the wards with casualties is scary to many of us, but we are driven by a sense of duty. Ironically, many of us are not supplied with the safety gear, including gloves while spraying disinfectants,” said a health worker in Puttur, showing the peeled skin on his palms.