People visiting the beach in Visakhapatnam on Sunday evening were in for a surprise when they were greeted by a team wearing PPE suits.
Holding placards with messages of wearing face masks and maintaining social distance, the team of Vizag Volunteers — a city-based NGO — went about explaining people on the need to stay indoors at a time when the COVID-19 cases were soaring in the city.
Beach Road has been witnessing an unprecedented crowd over the past three weekends. This comes at a time when the State has shot up to the second position in the country in the number of coronavirus infections. “When we visited the beach three weeks ago, we were shocked to see people thronging the public places without masks or any adherence of social distancing norms. We felt that spreading awareness is the need of the hour. From last Sunday, we have been wearing the PPE suits to draw the attention of the crowd to the grave situation the medical fraternity is in today,” said Bhupathiraju Anmish Varma, a volunteer from the NGO. The team moved around from The Park Hotel Junction till Viswapriya Function Hall educating people on the beach and also distributing surgical masks to the visitors as well as destitute people.
Karnatakapu Satish, the founder of Vizag Volunteers, said that the purpose of wearing PPE suit and stepping on beach road is to drive home the point that how much stressed the healthcare system is with doctors spending over 12-14 hours in PPE suits in hospitals and caring for patients. “But in most cases, we see people not caring about the situation and going about without masks even with children along. Repeated reminders need to be given and we intend to do that every Sunday,” he said.
Vizag Volunteers is a team of individuals who got together in April to facilitate COVID-19 relief work. They have helped scores of migrant workers during the initial days of the lockdown by providing food and shelter and also facilitated their onward journey to their home town.
Currently, the team is volunteering in five government shelter homes and also collaborated with Indian Railways in data collection of passengers travelling in and out of Visakhapatnam.