MUMBAI: The call for volunteers by Mumbai has helped India's maximum city get more than 5,000 volunteers to fight covid-19. These volunteers, who registered in just four days via online ticketing platform, BookMyShow, will work with the state and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) covid-19 cell.
"To fight the pandemic, the BMC and the government of Maharashtra need the support of volunteers in red zones and we are helping them gather this support, by putting out a ‘call for volunteer’ to citizens, across medical and non-medical assistance fields," said BookMyShow in an emailed statement to Mint.
BookMyShow is reaching out to millions of its users across Mumbai through email, message and push notifications.
The platform is also assisting the BMC in addressing citizens' queries on the official covid-19 telephone helpline number - 1916, handling thousands of calls from concerned citizens every day.
With covid-19 cases increasing rapidly--as on Tuesday, Mumbai reported 14,947 cases and 556 deaths--volunteer services are urgently needed to prevent the further spread of covid-19. The state government has been calling for volunteers so that the work is shared and the existing manpower is not strained.
Nearly 800 deputed staff members at the state election commission will also join the BMC's covid-19 cell.
"Right now, we have a total of 3,668 staff members, which include clerks, ward boys, cleaners, junior doctors and technicians. We have also written to SRA (Slum Rehabilitation Authority) and we are expecting nearly 30 engineers from there. Further, we have around 4,000 community health volunteers. The total manpower at BMC is 1.04 lakh staff members," said Milin Sawant, deputy municipal commissioner, BMC.
If the need arises, BMC may call the staff of its real estate development arm, Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada), to join the force.
On Tuesday, Mint had reported that the state may call around 5,000 government doctors from other districts in Maharashtra.
Around 11,000 doctors---government and private--are treating infected patients in the state. On 6 May, the state had asked the city’s private medical practitioners to report to work immediately and mandatorily serve covid-19 patients for at least 15 days. Till 11 May, the state had received 7,000 applications for the same.
"The lockdown has meant we postpone the number of cases coming at one time. And the state is looking at being prepared. In some districts, there are no or very few cases. Doctors can be called from there," said Shivkumar Utture, president, Maharashtra Medical Council.
Utture added that many doctors in Mumbai are overworked due to high number of cases. More doctors would mean that the existing ones could take a few days off from work and rest.
"Medical practitioners have been working continuously for the last two months. The idea is to give them some rest so that they do not fall sick. Besides, we need to augment medical staff in the quarantine centres too. Calling in doctors from other districts will help," added Utture.
The state government has been creating quarantine facilities to tackle the increasing number of covid-19 cases. The latest being at the Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) exhibition ground in Mumbai, which will have over 1,000 beds. The state has also transformed the NSCI dome in Worli into a 300-bed quarantine facility.
A state government doctor, who did not wish to be named, said the government is working on a plan where medical staff, if working for a week, would be given the next week off to rest.
"In the next two months, we are going to need many more people to work in the medical sector, at least twice the number that is working right now," the doctor said.