Micro management at all levels seems to be one of the strategies adopted by the government in its attempt to stem the spread of COVID-19 in Bengaluru. The special task force formed by the State is looking to rope in citizens to form a ‘Citizen Quarantine Squad’. Their job will be to ensure that those in home quarantine comply with rules.
According to a senior IAS official, nearly half of the people who came to Bengaluru from other States did not register on ‘Seva Sindhu’. “This means that they not only entered the city without going through the proper channels, but also that there is no record of their address or contact through which they may be traced,” said the official.
In the past, too, there have been cases of people failing to quarantine themselves at home. “A large percentage of those who came in using ‘Seva Sindhu’ have either provided wrong information or incomplete information. This is a serious threat to public health, as we don’t know how many of them have COVID-19,” said the official,
This is where the Citizen Quarantine Squad plays an important role. “We want to have one citizen enrolled in the squad for every 50 to 100 houses in a locality. This person will be responsible for monitoring movement (inter-State/inter-country) within his/her limits, ensure those who are placed in 14-day mandatory home quarantine are following it and report to the booth level officer in-charge,” the official explained.
Such local level monitoring will prevent a repeat of what happened in Delhi or Chennai. “There are around 9,000 polling booths in the city, each with 300-500 houses. We will need at least 25,000 citizens to join hands with the government,” the official said and added that they were also coordinating with HAM radio operators, several non-profit organisations and residents’ welfare organisations.
An announcement was made on social media platforms. More than 500 citizens have already signed up to be a part of the squad. This is not the first time that citizens are being roped in for COVID-19 efforts. Earlier, a volunteer group ‘Corona Warriors’ had been formed. They worked with different departments. However, with relaxations of lockdown restrictions, the group was disbanded.
Earlier in the day, squads for monitoring at the Assembly level were flagged off by Mayor M. Goutham Kumar and BBMP Commissioner B.H. Anil Kumar, who also head the special task force. These squads include booth level officials with whom the citizens’ squad will have to coordinate.
A call centre has been set up to help with the process of removing unnecessary data from the Quarantine Watch app. Call centre personnel are now getting in touch with people who have given their contact numbers and following up with them on whether they have complied with quarantine regulations.
“We also want to have a common 8-digit number with multiple lines for the call centre. We have already raised this issue with BSNL,” an official said.