VIRUDHUNAGAR: At a time when masks, sanitiser, and gloves were being distributed to those attending marriages and other functions, field workers battling the virus outbreak in Virudhunagar taluk alleged that they were not being provided with any protective gear.
This, however, is only one of several allegations cropping up from the taluk, which encompasses 50 villages. A group of revenue officials alleged that they were also being saddled with the duty of health department staff -- monitoring those within containment zones for symptoms.
"Around 120 field staff, including those from our department, are on the field, conducting inquiry with those coming to the district, visiting their houses, and monitoring them for symptoms. Though pasting of stickers is supposed to be carried out jointly by health and revenue officials, in our Taluk, we are the only ones doing this work," a revenue official, requesting anonymity, told TNIE.
"This is not only taxing on the workers but also ineffective. Two individuals for each village cannot monitor everyone every day; nonetheless, we do as much as we can," some officials said. When contacted, however, the Health Inspector concerned said that around 200 workers from five Primary Health Centres (PHCs) and anganwadi workers were engaged in door-to-door survey.
Exposed to potential positive cases
"We are doing double the amount of work we are supposed to do, but what concerns us the most is that we are not being provided with masks, gloves or sanitiser. The office at the district administration, where these are stocked, directs us to our tahsildar. We now have to purchase masks with our own money," said a revenue official. According to the tahsildar, however, all those at the office were provided with masks and sanitiser and Kabasura Kudineer.
All this when the situation in the district deteriorates day by day. According to sources, the number of positive cases stood at 32 as on Thursday, and most of their contact tracing were underway. Amidst this are the mysterious cases of foreign-returnees testing positive after over a month.
When contacted, Collector R Kannan refuted the allegations and said that works were being divided among officials and workers, and that none bypassed their duties. He also said that protective equipment was being distributed to the field staff and that there was sufficient stock in the district.
What villagers say
Residents of a village within a containment zone have a different story to tell. According to them, the village assistant took the count of those who entered the village and the Village Administrative Officer (VAO) concerned noted down their names and pasted a sticker on their houses. No follow-up in these houses or those around have been carried out by health officials so far.