Kalu, along with others, finished his brief stretching exercise, and sat on one of the benches placed in rows on the cement ground. Their physical instructor came down from the podium and a white screen and projector were placed for the next routine activity of watching a movie. In the meanwhile, a few of his fellow villagers from Odisha started reciting poems in their language through a microphone.
His life has taken a different turn with industry came to a grinding halt with the pandemic-induced lockdown and he is left with no income to support even himself.
Some migrant workers were able to board a train to their hometown just before the lockdown. He, however, was stuck in Guindy, a neighbourhood of Chennai, and food and daily expenses became a big question. Officials of the Chennai Corporation took them to the premises of a college about five days ago and they were given rooms to stay in, food and refreshments, and a movie before dinner.
He, along with another 376 migrant labourers, mostly from Ganjam district in Odisha, are staying at the college for the past couple of weeks.
“Here we are well taken care of. We have no complaints, but the only worry is how we can go back to our hometown,” he said.
Manjit Singh Nayar, general secretary and correspondent of Guru Nanak College and a member of the State Minorities Commission, said: “We are arranging for their food and other necessary things such as soap, handwash, and towels. We are getting supplies from many kind people.”
As the number of positive coronavirus
cases is increasing, the Tamil Nadu
government has started taking hard measures to control the spread of the virus, while ensuring all the basic essentials are available.
On March 11, Tamil Nadu
Health Minister C Vijayabaskar declared the state “coronavirus
free” as the lone patient in Chennai was recovering fast. A month later, on April 12 with 106 new cases on a single day, the number of positive cases has hit 1,075. The deaths in the state stand at 11 as of April 12.
The state has created facilities, including 23 (14 government) testing centres. The government has decided to bear the cost of testing in both public and private labs. Tamil Nadu
has around 29,074 isolation beds and 3,371 ventilators ready. Twenty-one government hospitals and 155 private hospitals have been notified to provide treatment for the infected people. The state government has ordered 400,000 rapid test kits from China, which could give results in 30 minutes, said Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami. However, the delivery of this is delayed as the consignment was diverted to the US, said senior officials. The State has, as of April 12, around 24,000 PCR test kits.
The state is following surveillance, containment, increasing testing facilities, and ensuring essentials at people’s doorstep, among other strategies.
To keep surveillance, the state has invoked the Public Health and the Disaster Management Laws and Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Twelve teams headed by senior officers have been set up to implement and monitor all the activities related to the pandemic. All points of entry and exit in all the districts are sealed. Even within the districts, cities, towns and villages, gates made of iron sheets have been built to stem the movements of people.
While in many places, the police, with folded hands, appealed to people not to venture out unnecessarily. They have made a unique “Corona” helmet to dissuade commuters from coming out on the streets during the nationwide lockdown. In some places, however, they had to use the baton.
More than 45,000 volunteers, who include 1,100 doctors and 3,500 paramedical staff, have registered so far.
The chief minister has also announced incentives, a guaranteed off-take of anti-malarial, anti-viral drugs, invasive ventilators, intensive care unit (ICU) monitors, masks and personal protective equipment (PPE). Incentives for manufacturing them include 30 per cent investment subsidy of up to Rs 20 crore, spread equally over five years.