The Auroville way of tackling the pandemic

The international township implemented a strict lockdown and a thorough system of contact tracing and isolation to keep the infection at bay.

Auroville, an international township in Villupuram district, has managed the COVID-19 pandemic reasonably well by implementing a strict lockdown and a thorough system of contact tracing and isolation to keep the infection at bay.

When the novel coronavirus was spreading across the world, Auroville with a global community of over 3,300 residents from 58 countries shut down and restricted visitors even before the national level lockdown was announced by the government on March 25 last year.

According to Tejaswini Mistri, member of the COVID-19 Coordination Team, “The Auroville Working Committee tried to manage it pretty well by closing down our half-functioning public places, community common kitchen and dining areas.”

“A diligent system of contact tracing was followed and those who had tested positive were immediately isolated. This helped us in controlling the spread and the community also extended support,” she said.

Two deaths

From a peak of over 80 positive cases from March this year, the number has now come down to 12. Out of 86 positive cases, 74 have recovered and there were two deaths due to COVID-19 related complications, according to an update.

All the patients are under home quarantine now and their primary vitals, including blood pressure, oxygen level and temperature, are regularly monitored through the volunteer system.

Auroville also converted one of its guest houses for people who have smaller rooms and do not have a place to isolate themselves.

“If there is a drop in vitals, doctors on call immediately contact the patient. Our aim is basically to minimise the hospitalisation,” Ms. Mistri added.

Delivering essentials

Volunteers also stepped in to deliver essentials, including groceries, vegetables, and medicines, to the young and old in Auroville.

Last year when the pandemic started, a group of Aurovillians who are from the IT field developed a system on the lines of e-commerce. They set up a store with essentials.

“We give a call to volunteers who can come and help us to deliver baskets at places where people are under home quarantine. The system also ensured that there was a very steady flow of food from farms in Auroville and it helped in making sure that all our residents have constant supply,” said Ankita, volunteers’ coordinator of Baskets service.

Ms. Ankita said that all COVID-19 protocols were adhered to by the team, including sanitation. Aurovillians and newcomers would visit on rotation and prepare the baskets while a separate team would go out and deliver them to the many communities in the township.

A senior official in the Health Department said that Auroville had observed the instructions of the government. The township had asked for a separate COVID-19 Care Centre for treatment of people in quarantine and they have been in constant touch since the pandemic.

The department also organised vaccination camps in the township and inoculated a large number of them. The flow of visitors was almost nil and the number of positive cases had reduced to a great extent, the official said.

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