Willingdon Sports Club at Haji Ali in COVID combat line-up

Updated: May 23, 2020, 07:47 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

Spiffy Haji Ali facility becomes part of south-central frontline in fight against the pandemic; infra work begins today, to be completed in 10 days

A Narielwala, WSC chairman
A Narielwala, WSC chairman

The Willingdon Sports Club (WSC) at Haji Ali has joined its Worli and Mahalaxmi siblings to become one more venue in the COVID fight. The club has been taken over as a quarantine centre. The areas zeroed in are a tennis court for a 250-bed ICU and the badminton court/mezzanine floor as a quarantine and recovery area for patients and doctors.

A club member speaking on anonymity, said after a survey was done recently, news had spread about the upscale club being surveyed by officials. "At that time, some members were hoping that it would stop at that. But obviously, the next step has been taken and is a quarantine facility now."

The WSC chairman, A Narielwala, in a mass communique to the club assured members, "There will be no damage to the surface of the tennis or badminton courts. The leg of the ICU tent on the tennis courts will be fixed into the ground on the periphery of the courts, and the playing surfaces would not be touched. An artificial flooring of padded material will be first placed on the courts and this will be covered by a roll-on floor, which is like the floor of any hospital."

Narielwala said that a survey was carried out at the club for setting up additional emergency hospitalisation and quarantine facilities, which are coming up all over Mumbai.

"Earlier we had been told that this was only to be preparatory for contingencies that may arise if COVID-19 cases get out of hand. On Tuesday, Aaditya Thackeray came personally to the club to inspect the areas identified by the BMC and the team setting up these facilities," he said.

Excerpts from the mail say Willingdon has become part of a single treatment hub for South-Central Mumbai. "This hub also comprises the NSCI Dome and the car park of the Turf Club. An ICU and quarantine beds facility within the WSC would add to that hub. Additionally, doctors and nursing staff had been allotted rooms in a nearby hotel and this location would allow a single team of doctors and nursing staff to cover all three locations. It was the proximity of our club to the sites already created which made it the ideal location."

Be counted

Narielwala added that "social distancing norms could continue till December" and there was very 'little' likelihood of the Club being opened before that.

"Mumbai is woefully short of hospital beds and supporting ongoing efforts of those fighting this pandemic is the right thing for us to do. The Managing Committee is fully supportive of the decision to help in any way we can and I hope you all agree that this is the time for us to stand up and be counted. I am certain that cooperating with the authorities will win goodwill for the Club," he said.

Prashant Gaikwad, Assistant Municipal Commissioner D ward said "work on setting up the infrastructure begins today (Saturday) and will wrap up in 10 days, after which people will be moved in."

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