Protect the weak, vulnerable at COVID centres

Updated: 12 August, 2020 07:47 IST | The Editorial | Mumbai

The lesson we take from this tragedy is the necessity for the safety of all buildings and specially created infra for COVID.

Fire broke out at a hotel in Andhra Pradesh's Vijayawada. Pic/ANI Twitter
Fire broke out at a hotel in Andhra Pradesh's Vijayawada. Pic/ANI Twitter

It is dial D for disaster as a hotel serving as a COVID centre in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh saw as many as 10 deaths after a fire engulfed the place. The fire, it is reported, spread from an air conditioning unit. Panicky patients jumped from the terrace as the flames rose up in the hotel.

The lesson we take from this tragedy is the necessity for the safety of all buildings and specially created infra for COVID.

While overall safety is paramount, several buildings converted into centres must have fire fighting equipment in good condition.

There must be clearly demarcated escape routes indicated or marked at every centre in case of a fire. Patients who are able to comprehend this must pay attention to the alternative available.

Emergency bells or fire alerts must warn people about danger and even though some may be extremely ill, a fire drill on a television set or by a demonstrator can send a message, about what to do in case of fire.

Several COVID centres have been erected on club grounds or in maidans. These are makeshift structures created specifically for the pandemic. These too should have some kind of equipment and emergency protocols built into the system itself. While these are temporary we must ensure that the people in there have recourse to quick exits or some safety measures in times of emergencies like the one at Vijaywada.

Officers and workers supervising these centres must ensure they have emergency numbers on hand. The paths to these centres must be kept as free of obstruction as possible and storage of material on stairways or gangways should be discouraged.

A working loudspeaker system in case of any announcements should be at hand so that communication reaches all. Remember that those inside the centres are weak and vulnerable and we have to be prepared for quick, decisive measures in any eventuality.

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First Published: 12 August, 2020 06:47 IST

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