Gearing up for a tough Winter: Covid means precautions — and more space — for those at night shelters

Written by Jignasa Sinha
| New Delhi |

November 22, 2020 2:58:11 am

At the night shelter in Sarai Kale Khan, Saturday. Gajendra Yadav

Thermal scanners at a night shelter in Sarai Kale Khan, masks distribution at one close to AIIMS, and directions to take care of social distancing at portacabins for the homeless in Kashmere Gate. As temperature drops and Covid instances rise within the nationwide capital, night shelters — short-term houses to hundreds — are gearing up for a tough winter forward.

At the Kashmere Gate night shelter, set up by the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), there are 4 porta-cabins to accommodate 120-150 males every. Says caretaker Khushi Chand, “Before the pandemic, we could accommodate 400 men per day but now we can only use half the beds and space available to us because we also have to ensure that people don’t get infected.”

Around 8 pm, as males returned to the shelter after work, volunteers instruct them to take care of distance whereas standing in a queue at the doorway. “Mask peheniye, doori banaye rakhe,” they are saying. Caretakers say that those who attain after 10 pm are shifted to shelter houses in South Delhi. “DUSIB will make two more porta cabins here as the number of people goes up a lot in December every year,” says Chand.

As the night chill units it post-dinner, Ajay (27), who works at a restaurant in Chandni Chowk, says, “I sleep here daily and now there is a lot of space because of Covid — unlike earlier when there would be too many people. I leave for work in the morning and return by 7 pm. They’ve given us masks and soap so we don’t get the virus… I am worried about December when it will get colder and more people will come. I don’t want to get infected — I’m the sole breadwinner and send money back home in Bihar.” Ajay’s fear resonates with a number of males throughout the three shelter houses The Indian Express visited.

DUSIB runs 300 night shelters in Delhi. The board’s advisor, Bipin Rai, says, “We will set up 250 more tents and cabins to accommodate more people, while keeping the Covid situation in mind.”

At the Sarai Kale Khan shelter dwelling, caretakers stand with thermal scanners prepared because the night units in. Each particular person is stopped, his temperature checked, and solely then is he allowed in. In case of fever, the particular person is examined and remoted in one other room. If the particular person assessments constructive, he/she is shifted to a quarantine middle. The identical train is repeated within the morning earlier than they go away for work.

Moni (38), a tiffin field vendor, says, “I’ve been living here with my family for over a year, but we’ve been concerned ever since the virus. Not that we can afford to rent a house. Thankfully there is a restriction on how many people can stay here.”

Last month, when Moni had fever at the night shelter, he bought examined. “The result came back negative. Every day, we get screened here.” The Sarai Kale Khan night shelter additionally homes individuals injured in street accidents. P Ok Gagan, a caretaker, says most sufferers are examined for Covid earlier than they’re despatched to the shelter. “We send them back to the hospital if they have fever because we can’t let others get infected. As of now, we have 19 people… We use hydrochloride solution to sanitise rooms and cabins.”

At the night shelter close to AIIMS, solely 10 males occupy the huge space late Saturday night. Dinner has been served, quilts are prepared and the shortage of individuals has meant everybody has a mattress. Says the caretaker: “Most beds are vacant because everyone has gone back home for Diwali or Chhatth… They will come back soon.”


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