Hyderabad: One of the biggest gated communities in Hyderabad, My Home Jewel at Madinaguda, has reported more than 150 COVID-19 positive cases since 20 March. As of 12 April, it has around 112 active cases after 11 residents tested positive on Monday. One death has also been reported.

The community houses around 8,000 residents in 2,016 apartments.

"Last year there were only a few cases but now we are reporting new cases every day. It has impacted all age groups. If one member of the family tests positive, others also contract the infection immediately," said Nanda Kishore, the general secretary of My Home Jewel Apartment Owners Association.

As one of the biggest gated communities, My Home has more than 90 community employees and around 250 others like housekeepers and gardeners. "Most of these employees come from outside. Food and grocery delivery personnel also come here from outside. So apart from residents, outsiders come into our community. When there was a lockdown it was easy to control their movement but now we have to manage it ourselves," said B. Muralidhara Rao, the president of the association.

The association has imposed a night curfew between 9 p.m and 5 a.m since last week due to the rise in the COVID-19 cases. However, there are no restrictions on people going to work. "A lot of people who are frontline workers have to go to work. Since the government has not imposed any lockdown, we have not imposed restrictions either. If somebody tests positive, we advise them to isolate themselves," said Nanda Kishore.

The association has put out SOPs to be followed by the residents and if anyone is found violating the rules, they are fined. "We have instructed everyone to wear a mask when coming out of their house. They have been instructed to not spit in public places. If someone is found violating the rules, the association levies a fine," said Muralidhara Rao.

Also, the community has closed down the swimming pool, sports area, and common hall. "Even if two or three people are seen moving together and not maintaining social distance, the security personnel will go and tell them to maintain distance and not move in a group," said Mr. Rao.

Given the surge in cases, the association has set up a desk where people can reach out for help. "We have asked residents who test positive to inform us immediately. Once we receive information an emergency response team consisting of staff members and management committee members try to implement the SOPs," said Nanda Kishore.

The association has put a mechanism in place to sanitize the area and trace contacts. "We circulate information through WhatsApp mentioning the flat number and block the infected patients," said Kishore added.

The association is also putting up posters outside the flats of infected patients to avoid any further spread. "This is only precautionary measures so that residents, delivery executives, and visitors don't accidentally enter the flat and get infected," said Nanda Kishore.

The emergency response team has also started providing basic amenities, including food and medicine, at the doorsteps of the infected people. "If someone has to go to the hospital, we have an ambulance with PPE kits. We sanitize the ambulance as well as the places where the patients have walked through," said Nanda Kishore.

They also said that it's up to the people to fight the pandemic. "We should make some hard decisions like not going out and maintaining physical distances. If there is no such necessity to go out, we should stay at home. Vaccination at this moment should be a priority. Around 200 senior citizens got vaccinated and now we are encouraging other members to get vaccinated too. It's tough times but we should be patient. Everything will be alright one day," added Muralidhara Rao.

Meanwhile, Telangana reported 3,052 new cases on Monday taking the overall tally to 3,32,581 in the state. The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) area reported 406 new cases. The neighboring Rangareddy district saw 248 new cases while Medchal Malkajgiri reported 301 and Sangareddy 123.

Sumit Kumar Jha

Sumit Kumar Jha is currently a multimedia journalist with Newsmeter. An alumnus of Hyderabad Central University and Amity University, he has interned with The New Indian Express and CGNet Swara. Sumit has also worked with video production houses in Mumbai as an assistant director in shows like 21 Sarfrosh for Discovery Jeet. He is specialised in Video Production. He was also the contributor at PARI network. Hailing from rural Bihar has spent his childhood shifting from places and people. Growing up he felt the need to document the lives and dreams of rural India. A lover of visual storytelling goes around the cities to search for Stories. He primarily reports on civic, human interest and data stories.

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