‘COVID Bandhus’ in Ganjam Helping Odisha Fight Coronavirus

Around 700 ‘COVID Bandhus’ who have recovered from COVID-19 in Ganjam district are now helping authorities fight the virus. These volunteers are encouraging symptomatic people to get the testing done. They are also helping clear anxieties and quash misinformation related to coronavirus, officials said.

“Ganjam is considered the coronavirus hotspot in the state as it has reported over 13,000 cases. Hence, we have launched a programme named ‘COVID Bandhu’ to rope in those who have recovered”, the officials added.

“Around 700 people have registered their names and many of them are already on the field, motivating people to go for testing”, said project director of District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) Sidharth Shankar Swain.

“The ‘COVID Bandhus’ are on a mission to build confidence among the people to fight against the deadly virus. They have fanned out across the district to work among the people,” Swain said.

Amulya Upadhaya, a volunteer, says he persuaded many shopkeepers, suspected as silent spreaders of the virus, to go for testing. “I explained to them about my experience, following which they went for testing,” he said.

“We have conducted three meetings in the village followed by the swab tests of shopkeepers,” he added.

A Collective Effort

“The ‘COVID Bandhus’ have been campaigning and creating awareness among the people by narrating their experiences,” said K Durga Prasad Rao, the sarpanch of Badakhandi in Hinjili block.

Similarly, tales of many other ‘Bandhus’ have emerged from the district. “After completing home isolation two days ago, I motivated the people to come forward for swab sample tests in our village and nearby villages,” said N Dambaru Reddy of Kotharsing in Rangeilunda block.

Santoshini Mohanty of Kanchuru village of Hinjili block said, “We reached out to the people, especially to the women over phone and social media, asking them to go for early testing without any fear.”

Ganjam Collector Vijay Amruta Kulange is delighted with the progress seen due to the selfless contribution by the ‘COVID Bandhus’. “They reach out to the people, explain their experiences as a patient. They also conduct counselling to the suspected people and remove fear from their minds,” he said.