Kerala

Virtual network to reach out to in these testing times

All across the country, with the surge in COVID-19 cases, the past few days have witnessed desperate calls for beds in hospitals, for oxygen cylinders, plasma, and medicines. Often, the public are at a loss as to whom to reach out to.

A group of youth from Kerala has been over the past one week running an informal online network called ‘Covid Volunteer Network (CoVolNet) through more than 30 WhatsApp groups spread across various States to connect people to the right resources.

Coming in handy in dealing with the distress calls is their experience in running such a voluntary network under the government during the floods that hit Kerala in 2018 and 2019. Bharath Govind G.S., who co-founded the group with his friend Aishwarya Chandran, says that their virtual control rooms across the State handle more than a hundred calls daily.

“We have separate WhatsApp groups for most States and for every metro city. The biggest demand is for oxygen cylinders, especially in Delhi, where I am currently based in. We have a verification and research team that verifies information on availability and connect the needy to them. The team includes doctors from India and abroad, IAS officers, students from major Indian universities, IT professionals, and bank officials, all of whom joined in the effort based on personal contact. Connections with government officials and others, built during the flood relief work, have aided a lot in this,” says Mr.Bharath.

The team has been able to connect many to oxygen suppliers, identify hospital beds, provide medicines, and help many in registering for vaccination. One of the heartbreaking messages the team received was a request for breast milk for a two-day-old baby in Delhi, whose mother had succumbed to COVID-19

“We at times struggle to fulfil the needs. It is difficult to get verified information of available resources in some places. Even after verifying, for instance the availability of oxygen cylinders, it could be exhausted within microseconds, because the demand is too much. In some cases in Delhi, we have later received messages that the person has passed away, waiting for a bed or a cylinder,” he says.

The demand from Kerala has been increasing over the past few days, so are the number of volunteers from here joining the group. But the demand for beds and oxygen is still less from the State.

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The CoVolNet can be reached at 9633096769 or by sending a message to instagram.com/covid_volnet.


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Printable version | Jun 16, 2021 2:39:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/virtual-network-to-reach-out-to-in-these-testing-times/article34458730.ece

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