Coronavirus Has Made Our Shelter Homes Even More Vulnerable. Another UP Home Turns Into a Hotspot

Social Commentary

Coronavirus Has Made Our Shelter Homes Even More Vulnerable. Another UP Home Turns Into a Hotspot

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

As India’s fight against the global coronavirus pandemic continues, a shelter home in Uttar Pradesh has emerged as a hotspot after 90 girls tested positive for Covid-19. The Nari Niketan shelter home in Bareilly is the site of this latest outbreak. Nita Ahirwar, Uttar Pradesh’s Deputy director of the Women Welfare Department said, “In the past two days, 90 inmates of Nari Niketan here have tested positive for Covid-19. All of them have been isolated,” in a statement to Press Trust of India.

The provenance of the infection’s outbreak in Nari Niketan has not yet been determined. Ahirwar said that an investigation to determine the outbreak’s source is underway.

While the cluster of coronavirus cases at the shelter is disturbing, unfortunately, it is not an unprecedented incident. Earlier this year, in June, another shelter in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, was the site of a similar outbreak. In Kanpur, 57 girls at a shelter home tested positive for Covid-19. A few of those girls, who were minors, were also found to be pregnant. In the wake of that incident, the state government ordered that all inmates residing in women’s and children’s shelter homes be tested. Sadly, it appears that the preventative measures taken have failed to prevent an even larger outbreak in Bareilly.

These shelter homes are meant to be places of refuge for those without anywhere else to go. It’s regrettable then that they are emerging as possible hotbeds of the coronavirus infection. Authorities’ attempts to control the pandemic in the general population are undercut by the vulnerability of those under their direct care. The news from Nari Niketan has triggered outrage, especially given how it appears as a repeat of the same laxities that led to the outbreak in Kanpur.

Though India’s number of daily new cases has seen a dip this week, as long as there are outbreaks like the ones in Uttar Pradesh’s shelter homes, there is clearly a long way to go.