Covid 19 - update 12th May
By CRF editor, May 12 2020 08:37PM
The whole of Kolkata and surrounding districts have been designated a coronavirus high-risk “Red Zone” and there are now 300 “Containment Areas” here - areas sealed off because of virus cases. We are continuing our emergency food and medicine programme while planning ahead for the longer term.
Our medical team has been very busy delivering a second batch of medicines and food to 700 high-need patients. However some of our patients who need drugs have gone missing and we are trying hard to trace them.There are also 20 patients who need expensive and life-saving drugs for conditions like leukaemia, but who live five hours or more outside the city. Up to now we haven’t had time to reach them, but this coming week we are going to get to them, even though it will tie up a vehicle and driver for a whole day. Drug supply is an increasing problem, with prices rising fast and the supplier of all our neuro medicines now unreachable inside a “Containment Area”. Our pharmacy team are working to find new suppliers and keep costs down.
We have developed Covid guidelines for the clinics to run safely in the months ahead. Patients will consult doctors over the phone and only come to one of the clinics if it is essential to see them in person, or to collect medicine and food benefits. The clinics themselves will be physically reorganised to protect patients and staff. We need to find the money for personal protective equipment for staff for the foreseeable future.
We continue to supply essential food to 600 students and their families, increasing our normal schools food budget by 50%. Our education team continues to use distance learning to teach all the pupils at formal schools and they have restarted teaching the youngest cohort who need to learn to read and write so they can get admitted to schools.
This is not easy, as everything has to be done over the phone. Some students have access to smartphones, which makes it much easier as teachers can share videos, provide and mark work via WhatsApp and get the kids to access a wealth of online materials. But most of them don’t and there is a serious risk that they will fall behind with their lessons. We hope to be able to afford to provide them with smartphones and data to stay connected with their learning.
Many staff have been confined to their homes far away from the clinics . Some, such as the office staff have been able to work from home. But the hard physical work of sorting, packing and delivering medicines and food has fallen on a skeleton crew of around 20 people who live near the clinics.
Meanwhile the senior management team and doctors have decided to donate 10% of their salaries this year to help ensure the charity can continue its vital work through the very challenging period ahead.