Coronavirus | Life at an apartment complex in the time of lockdown

Residents’ association is pulling out all the stops to make people’s stay comfortable

March 25, 2020 12:55 am | Updated 10:37 am IST - Kochi

Cleaning staff, who are engaged in work on floors with quarantined people, in protective gear at New Town Heights apartment complex at Kakkanad in the city.

Cleaning staff, who are engaged in work on floors with quarantined people, in protective gear at New Town Heights apartment complex at Kakkanad in the city.

With 1,268 apartments split into 15 blocks and spread over 26 acres, the DLF New Town Heights at Kakkanad is easily one of the biggest apartment complexes not just in Kochi but in the entire State.

The challenge of managing a prolonged lockdown, therefore, is big with the residents’ welfare association giving top priority to waste management.

“Many residents have gone to their hometowns while there are a large number of retirees who are staying back. We have drawn up extensive plans to make their stay smooth and comfortable without having to venture out for anything,” said S. Anish, secretary of the association.

Initially, the plan was to retain all 38 housekeeping staff by deploying a vehicle for their conveyance in two shifts. But that plan went out of the window as soon as the District Collector clamped Section 144 in the district and put severe restrictions on all forms of transportation. So, the association contacted the agency concerned, which agreed to allocate 15 workers within walkable distance from the property for waste disposal who, for the time being, will also undertake housekeeping work. All apartment owners have been asked to suspend the services of maids, except those staying with families, till March 31.

‘Police to be alerted’

“Those who had recently travelled will have to restrict themselves to room quarantine and their extended families in home quarantine. On completion of quarantine, all of them will have to get themselves tested and submit the reports to the association. Guests, even apartment owners staying elsewhere, will have to produce the medical certificate failing which the police would be alerted,” said Mr. Anish.

Cleaning staff will be kept away from floors where people are remaining in quarantine and cleaning will be restricted to the lifts and lobby.

Apart from making available sanitisers at all entry points to ‘break the chain’, the association has engaged a special team to clean all door bars and knobs thrice a day considering that touching vulnerable surface is one of the easiest routes to infection. Enough supplies of gloves, masks, sanitisers and cleaning solutions have been sourced through wholesale dealers for distribution among the staff, including the team of 45 security guards. “We have also reached an understanding with super markets in the immediate neighbourhood to deliver essential items at door steps sparing the aged of having to go out to secure provisions,” said Mr. Anish.

Bolstering this is an ever increasing cluster of young volunteers who have agreed to help out the aged who are now restricted to their apartments in the wake of the lockdown. Their numbers have been circulated on all online and offline forums.

Delivery boys will have to drop supplies at the entry of all 15 blocks manned by security guards round-the-clock. Parcels will be kept in stilt for 24 hours before being handed over to residents. Guards will collect the name and contact number of delivery boys and alert apartment owners concerned through intercom about the delivery.

With social distancing being the norm, the association brainstorming now takes place over Telegram, WhatsApp and a paid chat application. “Since this is an unprecedented situation, we will have to improvise as we go on in dealing with it,” he said.

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