A posh pilgrim complex turns into ‘star-rated’ quarantine facility for COVID-19 suspects

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Though in normal times it is a pilgrim accomodation complex, Padmavathi Nilayam here has metamorphosed into a ‘star-rated’ quarantine facility for COVID-19 suspects today.

Within a fortnight of its transfer from the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) to AP Tourism management for operations, the mammoth complex with 200 rooms and 400 beds was converted into a quarantine centre on Mar 23. While positive cases are shifted to hospital, their primary and secondary contacts are moved here.

Location, location, location

Though quarantine centres are made mandatory for every constituency, this building, in view of its location in Tirupati and technically falling under Chandragiri, continues to house suspects from both the contiguous constituencies. In fact, people from Srikalahasti and Nagari are also found in large numbers here. Initially, very few foreign returnees, persons with dubious travel history and those identified in door-to-door survey were brought, the numbers surged after Mar 29, when Delhi returnees, their primary and secondary contacts and even co-passengers tumbled in large numbers.

The centre operates under the personal supervision of Collector Bharat Narayan Gupta. Apart from roping in donors, TUDA Chairman and local MLA Chevireddy Bhaskar Reddy made profuse allocations from TUDA and his constituency funds. The presence of a catering agency, which the AP Tourism had already engaged for its operations, apparently came as a blessing in disguise for this complex, as similar centres elsewhere are depending on contract workers, who are unable to meet people’s expectations.

Full-service, on the house

The star facility offers meals thrice, snacks twice, coffee/tea for the boarders, milk, chocolates and biscuits for children, hot water facility and medicines as per prescription. There are individual buckets and flasks for those staying here, which the boarders of many such centres are not privileged to have. Apart from suspects hailing from Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal, there is also a British national who is enjoying his pleasant stay here. Many remain glued to their mobile phones, while some are seen working (from home) on their laptops.

“We have formed a WhatsApp group wherein the boarders can type their requirement, which will be delivered in minutes”, TUDA Secretary and the centre’s in-charge S. Lakshmi told The Hindu. When a suspect leaves at the end of his/her quarantine period, sanitary workers in protective gear immediately disinfect the room, bed and change the linen, exhibiting preparedness for the next arriving suspect.

Notwithstanding the morale-sapping extension of lockdown, the medical, sanitary, engineering and catering staff continue to render service tirelessly.

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