The shortage of health workers, many of whom are overworked due to COVID-19, has resulted in poor sanitation in some departments of the Chittoor Municipal Corporation and several communities over the past month.
The COVID situation at Chittoor Municipal Corporation, which remained well under control through mid-April, with daily cases between 70 and 150, spiraled out of control at the end of the month when daily cases topped the 200 mark.
The company with 50 departments has almost 50 security zones. With increasing pressure from recently elected companies, sanitary wing officials are finding it difficult to meet the dual responsibility of disinfecting the areas where COVID cases are reported and the daily routine of garbage collection and sanitation.
Plumbing Inspector K. Chinnaiah said two jumbo disinfectant sprayers were working around the clock in order to fight the pandemic to cope with the ever-growing daily cases. He said the workload on health workers had increased in recent weeks with a sudden surge in cases.
“For this reason, public sanitation takes a back seat in some areas. However, we are doing our best to remove the rubbish and clear the sewers. Of the 500+ employees, including permanent and outsourced workers, 90% work on any given day, ”he said.
In several municipalities, household waste is collected on alternating days due to a lack of labor.
Kuppam, which recently became a parish, has an acute shortage of health workers. Although the waste collection occurred on alternate days prior to the lockdown in March last year, residents say it has not been seen since the pandemic broke out. Several stations and public spaces can be seen with clogged drains and garbage dumps.
This scenario is attributed to an overload of health workers being redirected to COVID tasks, as the number of daily cases has stayed close to 100 for a week, up from less than 20 in early April.
A similar situation is reported by Madanapalle, Palamaner, Puttur and Nagari. However, in many places, residents say that despite the labor shortage, health workers have worked tirelessly.
“The workload is almost suffocating. The daily cases close to 100 are worrying and completing COVID duties on the wards with victims is frightening for many of us, but we are driven by a sense of duty. Ironically, many of us are not provided with safety equipment, including gloves when spraying disinfectant, ”said a health worker in Puttur, showing the peeled skin on his palms.