THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: “On April 25, I tested positive for Covid-19. My world turned upside down,” said Bindu, 47, an ASHA worker of MC Puram ward in Kollam. Bindu was the first Asha worker in the state to test positive for the virus, which has infected over 570 people in the state so far. “I was scared for my family, especially my son and husband,” she said. Fortunately, neither of them contracted the infection. Ever since the pandemic reared its head in the state, Bindu has been putting her life at risk as she covers 480 houses in the ward and 17 quarantine homes with suspected Covid patients.
Meanwhile, 20 ASHA workers of Chathannoor PHC were shocked when Bindu tested positive. Things became worse when people turned hostile.“Suddenly, we were being treated like carriers of the virus,” said Jayalakshmi R S, an ASHA worker of Varinjam ward. “Some, especially youngsters, treat us badly. Some even threatened me and I had to seek the help of police,” she says.
She recalled how the health officials called a meeting and said the workers could not skip duty fearing negative public response. Their day involves a lot of walking. They have not yet received two months’ salary and are forced to spend their own money on masks, gloves and sanitisers as the authorities have not provided them with those.With the influx of people from abroad and other states, the ASHA workers are on their toes.“It is going to be tough,” says Saji Kumari, an ASHA worker in Karakulam panchayat in the capital. “We have to meet them and get the details. It is impossible to know the real situation via a call,” says Saji.