Port Blair, Aug 17: The Non-Gazetted Govt. Officers’ Association, A & N Islands has expressed serious concern over the recent surge and spread of the Pandemic COVID-19 in these islands. It also expressed anguish and concern at the safety of employees and workers engaged in COVID duties as the number of employees infected by the pandemic is increasing day by day.
In a letter addressed to the Chief Secretary dated 14th August, 2020, the General Secretary of the Association, Mr. T S Sreekumar , pointed out towards various measures that to be taken to ensure the safety and security of the staff and other measures to contain this highly infectious viral disease.
The General Secretary pointed towards certain issues which needed immediate attention and proper action to ensure safety of people and contain the further spread of virus. He conveyed his apprehension towards the procedure adopted by the Health Department where the dead bodies of COVID-19 victims are being handed over to the family members themselves for burial/cremation. He urged the Chief Secretary to direct the Health Department to ensure safe disposal of the dead bodies as per the protocol by experienced health staff/mortuary staff or by trained volunteers considering the safety and well-being of close relatives of the departed soul. The Association also demanded the establishment of more RT-PCR testing facilities in the islands by setting up of additional center for testing in Port Blair and one each in North & Middle Andaman and Nicobar district with the help of ICMR and Govt. of India. It was also suggested that Administration may request the Govt. of India to send a team of experts from AIIMS, New Delhi to help and step up the fight against the biggest challenge ever faced in our islands.
While highlighting about various measures to ensure the safety and security of the staff and employees involved in the COVID duty, the General Secretary of the Association suggested that the staff on field duty/office duty involving direct contact with Covid-19 patients or their first contacts should be provided with proper PPE Kits, quality N95 masks, Gloves etc. to reduce the risk of spread among these staff. The Association further expressed concern over the reports that teachers and other employees deputed for COVID duty were being engaged continuously, even without any break on Saturdays and Sundays. It was proposed that such employees and staff involved in COVID duty should be given one week off after every 10 days of duty and they may be engaged on rotational basis. It was also observed that a majority of frontline staff, who have the chances of getting exposed to virus in infectious circumstances, do not have suitable facilities in their home to ensure the safety of other members of their family. The letter suggested that such frontline staff like Nurses, ANMs, other medical staff, teachers etc. who have more chances of getting infected should be provided with some Institutional Accommodation facilities like Hotels/Guest Houses/Hostels so that they can utilize the facility during COVID duty period.
The Association also invited the attention of Chief Secretary to its earlier letter requesting A & N Administration for introduction of Insurance Scheme to the employees ,other than that of Health Department, who are on COVID duty/Announcement of Ex-Gratia payment to the families of such employees in case of any unfortunate eventuality. The General Secretary re-iterated that an Insurance Scheme similar to the one announced by Hon’ble Prime Minister to health care staff may be introduced to all such employees/workers of A & N Administration, who are involved in COVID duty or an ex-gratia payment of Rs.50 lakhs to the families of such employees/workers in case of any fatality.