‘...and we thought dengue was the biggest threat!’

By Nirupama Viswanathan| Express News Service | Published: 03rd April 2020 05:29 AM
A Domestic Breeding Checker checking for breeding places or symptoms of the SARS-CoV-2 at Pallikaranai in Chennai on Thursday | Ashwin prasath

CHENNAI: Rajagopal’s workdays began and ended the same way for 10 years. A Domestic Breeding Checker (DBC), he had thought retiring without getting sick with dengue was his biggest challenge. Until now.“Our work is to check for mosquito breeding sites, spray repellents, and tell people to clear stagnant water and other breeding sites,” he says. Now, COVID-19 spread has completely changed his career outlook.  

Armed with a pen and notepad, he goes house to house checking for breeding places or symptoms of SARS-CoV-2. “I am not sure what I am looking for,” says the 54-year-old, walking down streets of Meenachi Nagar in Pallikaranai.    

“If it’s dengue, I know what to look for. Stagnant water, sewage... these are the markers. I have gone into houses of dengue patients before, and I was never scared.”It’s not the same now for Rajagopal. “I have no clue which house has a patient, and I am worried because I could pass it on to my family. I try not to go too close to my family, but they don’t listen. My wife eats with me, washes my clothes...”  

The workers are provided with masks, gloves, and free lunch at Amma Canteens, but that don’t do much in killing the fear. While most city residents stay in safety of their homes, these checkers have a daily target of checking 100 homes for symptoms. Some people offer them water, juice, and biscuits to beat the heat. Others just want them out as soon as possible. “We have no complaints,” says Rajagopal. “We just want all of this to be over soon. Imagine, there was a time when we thought dengue was our biggest threat!”  


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