BENGALURU: With 23 pourakarmikas testing Covid-positive, there has been heightened fear among the city’s sanitation workers. Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike officials tested 94 pourakarmikas in the South and West zones after two workers died suddenly two days ago and were found to be positive later. One worked in Deepanjali Nagar, while the other died at Sunkenahalli ward.
A BBMP official said the male pourakarmika, who worked at Deepanjali Nagar, also suffered from tuberculosis. The postmortem report found he had contracted Covid-19. His wife was also found to be positive. “Those who worked with the couple demanded that they be tested, and when we did, we found 23 (of 94) from the South and West zones positive. We had feared and prayed that this vulnerable section does not contract the virus. But now the worst has happened.
Finding their primary and secondary contacts is becoming the biggest challenge. It has also become difficult as others are not willing to work because they are scared of contracting the virus,” a BBMP official said. All 23 workers are asymptomatic at present and their family members are yet to be tested.
They work in wards 123, 158 and 143 and most live in Rayapura and Jagjivanram Nagar. D Randeep, BBMP Special Commissioner, solid waste management, said that workers who have tested positive will be sent to Sri Sri Ravishankar Ashram, which has been converted into a Covid care centre. All asymptomatic primary and secondary contacts will be home-quarantined and tested. There is a separate team for this, he said.
Bengaluru has 19,000 pourakarmikas, 2,500 of whom are hired on contract. A supervisor who works with
pourakarmikas, said, “Even otherwise, people maintain a distance from pourakarmikas. When the pandemic spread, the distance grew so much that when workers asked for water, shopkeepers would keep a
bottle on the road. With the new cases, people will just abandon and ill-treat them. Many have talked about this ill-treatment and have now refused to come to work. We have workers on standby, but we don’t know how long we can manage.”