Volunteers back in action as COVID-19 cases rise


Many groups are focussing on delivering medicines and essential items to those under home isolation

The last few weeks have been a busy time for Satish Rao, a volunteer with Project StepOne, a non-profit collective of technology and healthcare professionals volunteering to fight COVID-19. With cases rising in the city, he spends the better part of the day on the phone reaching out to people who have tested positive, reassuring them and checking to see if they need additional medical attention.

“There are many people currently under home isolation. With the Delta variant still in circulation, many people are worried. We try to create awareness and educate them about the dos and don’ts. In case they need counselling, we refer them to the certified counsellors,” said Mr. Rao.

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And his is not the only volunteer group that has seen a spurt in activity after a period of calm following the second wave. Several volunteer organisations, like Project StepOne, that were active during the first and second waves have been reactivated.

Relief Riders, a cyclists’ group that helps deliver medicines and other essentials to those under home isolation, is one such group. Sathya Sankaran, Bicycle Mayor of Bengaluru, who is the convenor of Relief Riders, said on last count, there were 275 volunteers. “We restarted a couple of days ago in Hyderabad and Bengaluru, and since then, we have had many new sign-ups,” he said.

Despite restarting just a couple of days ago, the volunteer group has already begun delivering medicines and groceries to people in home isolation. “Our volunteers are always double masked. We follow all COVID-19 protocols, including sanitising,” Mr. Sankaran added.

Tauseef Ahmed, a volunteer with ERT, which helps the State Government with the COVID-19 helpline’s Bengaluru webpage, said that there were at least 10 volunteers working on the site’s chat support. “We have also started rechecking the vendors listed on the website for oxygen, food and others so that people can get accurate information,” he said, and added that the group has remained active even after cases subsided after the second wave.

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The Bengaluru COVID-19 Volunteers, a city-based volunteers’ group, and COVID-19 Resource Volunteers, a pan-India group, also recently restarted their aid efforts. “During the second wave, we were jolted into action given the number of positive cases and those needing medical attention. The restrictions now are limited to weekends. However, the number of cases may peak in a couple of weeks,” said Shama Karkal, a volunteer with both groups.

Tanveer Ahmed from Mercy Mission that was active during the second wave, said that the group members have remained active, helping senior citizens, cancer patients and others. “Our ambulances are functional and we still have a lot of oxygen concentrators,” he said, hoping the public health situation doesn’t spiral out of control like it did during the second wave.



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Sagar Biswas

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