Random testing for the novel coronavirus has resulted in 23 sanitation workers, called pourakarmikas, in Bengaluru testing positive for the virus. This development was confirmed by Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Commissioner BH Anil Kumar in a video message on Saturday.
He said 23 people out of the 94 pourakarmikas who were chosen as part of a normal sample have tested positive. The Commissioner said that all of them are undergoing treatment and given all necessary help. All the 94 sanitation workers who were tested were among south and west zones.
This comes after two sanitation workers reportedly died of the disease recently in Deepanjali Nagar and Sunkenahalli wards.
The Hindu quoted lawyer and activist Clifton Dâ€™Rozario of the BBMP Pourakarmika Sangha who said that the random testing was a result of the pressure exerted by the workers post the demise of their colleagues. He also demanded that these workers be given protective gear including sets of personal protective equipment.
Another lawyer-activist, Maitreyi Krishnan of the same association, who was quoted in the same report, said that while pourakarmikas were given masks and gloves a month ago, they have not been provided with a fresh supply.
She blamed the lack of strict enforcement of waste segregation and management by the BBMP for being the root of the problem. She said this menace will continue until strict waste segregation is enforced. She said there were incidents of disposable masks being thrown as part of the mixed waste and she hinted there was a lapse in disinfecting the equipment used by them.
The New Indian Express reported the victim of the Deepanjali Nagar ward was also suffering from tuberculosis and his wife was also found to be coronavirus positive.
The report quoted a BBMP official saying that other persons who were working with these workers had demanded that they be tested and now finding their primary and secondary contacts poses a new challenge.
The official also stated that all the 23 pourakarmikas are asymptomatic and are mostly residents of Rayapura and Jagjivanram. They will be kept in the COVID-19 care facility set up at the Sri Sri Ravishankar Ashram.