THOOTHUKUDI: With the Covid-19 pandemic making living conditions worse for the elderly and poor, the services of the volunteers are essential. In Thoothukudi, to help those in distress, a group of philanthropists have come forward to launch a helpline number and a web portal to support Covid patients and those who are quarantined, with adequate food and medicines. They have deployed 120 volunteers, with at least two volunteers for each of the 60 wards in the Thoothukudi Corporation to deliver food and medicines at people's doorsteps. The philanthropist and a polybag manufacturer, P Mayilvel, who started the helpline, told The New Indian Express that he took the initiative during the first wave as many elderly people, families, destitutes, roadside dwellers, and quarantined Covid-19 positive patients were finding it difficult to get food and medicines. The group launched a toll-free helpline phone number – 7823995551 -- for medical and food-related queries, and a website www.covidfreetuty.in to enquire about the Covid-19 related information.
"During the second wave, I brought similar interest groups under a single umbrella to serve the needy with medical counselling, finding oxygen beds at hospitals, ambulance services, apart from catering food and medicines for the patients," he said. Having over 150 volunteers on board, Mayilvel said that they have posted 18 volunteers at Thoothukudi Medical College to attend toll-free calls and move their queries to the persons concerned -- food manufacturers, doctors, ambulances service. "We provide homemade foods for breakfast and lunch for free," he said, adding that they also provide food for domesticated animals. At least 350 to 400 packets of food are distributed every day, he added. They also get calls from foreign countries to provide food for their elderly parents staying in Thoothukudi, he said.
A government doctor said that she provides medical counselling for patients through the helpline numbers and gets specialists' opinions to direct patients with proper treatment.