Chittoor emerged as the worst hit district in the second wave. It reports the highest number of COVID deaths in the state and the daily average cases of around 3,000. The district has had confirmed cases of 1.73 lakh since the pandemic began, including 27,000 active cases and 1,166 victims currently.
The administration, which was on a war basis to set up beds for more and more patients, had set up more than 25 COVID care centers in different mandals during the second wave, which began in April. However, their efforts are hampered by the severe shortage of health workers and nursing assistants in the centers.
The centers are located in Kuppam, Palamaner, Madanapalle, Valmikipuram, Piler, Chandragiri, Srikalahasti, Satyavedu, Nagari, Karveti Nagaram and GD Nellore.
While the organizers, in coordination with the NGOs and outsourcing agencies, are making frantic efforts to find more temporary workers, the existing workers are quitting their jobs due to late payments and safety concerns.
It has become difficult to employ at least 1,000 people to maintain hygiene and care for patients, according to a member of a Tirupati-based NGO. It has become difficult to bundle even 10% of the demand. The NGO that took on the task of pooling temporary workers for the centers admitted that from March to date, almost 50% of the workforce had left office.
A week after a 23-year-old B.Tech graduate started working as a temporary worker in a care center in Tirupati, he stopped reporting on his duties. “I came here to contribute my mite by serving the patient. I was also unemployed at the time. However, I later found out that the staff were not provided with PPE kits and masks, nor had any insurance. The virus has devastated all populations regardless of age. We’re scared too. I had to quit on the advice of my parents, ”he said.
A 60-year-old man who came to a center in Madanapalle as a health worker regretted having been forced to do the work of four workers. He claimed he quit the job because he hadn’t received his wages in two months. He said a dozen new employees left within a month.
The personnel crisis was also attributed to the caution of the village elders. “In the villages it is the order of the day that a person who joins a COVID center is not allowed to return until the center is closed,” noted a medical worker from Piler.