Elderly residents who live alone have been urged to call the Senior Citizens’ Helpline number to report any discomfort or problem to police in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
Calcutta has a large elderly population who live alone either by choice or because their sons and daughters live elsewhere in the country or abroad.
Calcutta police have been running project Pronam, which caters to over 16,000 senior citizen members, but the helpline has now been thrown open to all elderly people living in the city.
“Many fellow Calcuttans who live abroad have elderly relatives in Calcutta. Please contact us in need and we will do all we can to ensure your family stays healthy and safe. We will fight this battle together,” Calcutta police commissioner Anuj Sharma said.
In a recent advisory issued by the Indian government, citizens above 65 years of age and children below 10 years have been asked to remain indoors to protect themselves from the coronavirus.
Calcutta police officers attached with Pronam said they have been receiving several queries about dos and don’ts about Covid-19. “Some of them are concerned if the housing complex where they live in are taking enough precautions, some want to know what could protect them from getting infected while some are worried because they live alone and have no one to call if they fall ill,” an officer of south division said. “We keep reminding them: ‘amra to achhi (we are here to take care of you).’”
Senior officers at Lalbazar said they were encouraging the elderly to remain indoors and report the slightest of discomfort — either physical or mental — to the police helpline.
The police control has been receiving complaints over phone about neighbours allegedly violating the home quarantine rules or about suspected cases of coronavirus infection. Police have been forwarding all the complaints to the health department for appropriate action.
The police had to intervene on Friday when two residents of a highrise in Ballygunge who had recently returned from abroad had reportedly refused to follow the rules of home quarantine.
“Senior citizens are the most vulnerable to this disease and we are dedicated to serve them in whatever way we can. We want them to communicate with us either through the Senior Citizens’ Helpline or by simply dialling 100,” said a senior officer at Lalbazar.