In what could be a first of its kind of initiative, the district administration of Mahabubnagar, identified as one of most backward districts in the country, has launched community watch programme by forming village-level teams to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Apart from creating awareness among people about safety measures to be following to prevent the spread of dreaded infectious disease, the village-level community watch teams are also keeping an eye on the families/persons whose home quarantine has been prescribed by the medical authorities after their return from other countries. To ensure functioning of the village-level teams, a supervisory monitoring system has also been put in place.
Explaining the concept, District Collector S. Venkata Rao told The Hindu that the administration has drawn inspiration for launching the programme from some communities which enforced social distancing as the news of coronavirus spread by preventing others entering their village by blocking the road entry.
Citing an example, he stated that the people of Managampet thanda in the district have started restricting entry of outsiders as the news of the dreaded virus infection spread.
Taking a cue from spontaneous reaction of a few habitations, the district administration has identified that there is a need for a micro-level strategy to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Since it cant be expected that all people will take necessary precautions themselves to prevent the spread of the virus as most of them are prone to be influenced by half-knowledge, blind faith and misinformation, we have decided adopt a multi-pronged strategy to combat the spread of coronavirus by evolving Mahabubnagar Community Watch programme with the District Rural Development Agency as the nodal authority, Mr. Venkata Rao stated.
Teams in action
As part of the strategy, village-level watch teams have been formed with village administrative officer, grama sangham (village organisation of women self help groups) president, secretary and treasurer and an active villager as its members in association with the community coordinators and assistant project managers working for DRDA.
The community watch teams will be in addition to other regular mechanisms such as village revenue office, village (panchayat) secretary, village revenue assistant in place, the District Collector said.
Stating that 182 persons of the district have been prescribed home quarantine by the medical authorities after their return from other countries in the recent past, Mr. Narayana Rao said the community watch teams are monitoring their movements with the help of other people, including neighbours of such families. Besides, regular medical check-up, once in three days, is also being done for 1,289 persons who have returned to the district from other States by health workers.
The community watch teams would monitor whether the people quarantined were actually following the procedure or not and in case of any violation, they are alerting zonal development officer, tehsildar, medical officer and sub-inspector of police of the area concerned. There were only a couple of such breaches and the persons were counselled against their misadventure. Besides, the teams are also monitoring local news outlets and social media so that they could report to the local police about the spread of fake news or rumours, if any.