Resident welfare associations (RWA) and block committees across Kolkata, Salt Lake and New Town are arranging for various tests related to Covid-19 — to either detect the virus or assess if individuals have antibodies — all within the convenience of gated complexes and blocks. The random testing, being conducted either in collaboration with the local civic body or a private laboratory, aims to identify asymptomatic people and isolate them, trace contacts and determine if people have recovered without even knowing.
At EE Block in Salt Lake, more than 100 residents got themselves tested. “A lot of people want to know if they have been infected and are asymptomatic. Many of them are either not aware of how and where to get tested while others are not comfortable visiting a laboratory fearing infection. So we decided to arrange for the tests for residents in a place within the Block after implementing social distancing measures and other guidelines,” said Samir Mondal, general secretary of the residents’ association.
Several gated complexes have also arranged for rapid antigen tests and RT-PCR tests, and participation in complexes, like Shukhobrishti in New Town, Arvind Apartment in north Kolkata and Rosewood High in south Kolkata, has been high.
“There are lot of senior citizens who are at a higher risk. But they have to interact with a lot of people, including family members and service staff. Random testing like this helps them be on their guard,” said Mainak Kanrar, a member of one of the residents’ associations.
A KMC team conducted rapid antigen tests on 70-odd residents of Surjakiran Housing Complex in Paikpara earlier this month. The association had approached the civic body with the list of residents willing to undergo the test. Officials of the KMC health department said they would conduct a camp if more than 20 residents of a complex were willing to undergo the test.
“It was a huge relief because I would otherwise have required a doctor’s prescription or advice from a fever clinic in a government hospital to get tested. But when the team came to our complex, we did not need any prescription,” said a resident of Surjakiran Housing Complex.
New Town Residents’ Welfare Forum also organized a camp for antibody testing in collaboration with a private laboratory. “Housing committees can play a key role in curbing the spread of the virus by conducting such tests for residents. We can save a lot of elderly people if we conduct such camps pro-actively,” said Samir Gupta, joint convenor of the New Town Residents’ Forum.
RWAs have already been playing a crucial role in the Covid fight by setting up teams of volunteers to assist senior citizens and co-ordinate with government agencies to identify, isolate and shift Covid patients to hospital.