Tripura: Teachers volunteering in Covid war rooms give lessons in selfless service

These war rooms keep track of all passengers coming in through railways and airways, coordinate with identified Covid patients, and handle the Covid call centers.

As most of the country stays indoors amid the Covid-19 outbreak, a group of over 1,000 school teachers in Tripura is risking their lives to go to work every day — and not for teaching. Schools, colleges and other educational institutions were shut in the state over a month ago, but these teachers are manning district Covid war rooms set up across Tripura, that too on a purely voluntary basis.

In order to reach out to every Covid-19 patient in home isolation, Tripura came up with the idea of setting up these war rooms. Now, these rooms keep track of all incoming passengers through railways and airways, coordinate with identified Covid patients, and handle the Covid call centers, where anyone can ask for help on the pandemic.

Government spokesperson Ratan Lal Nath said 1,703 teachers were engaged in these war rooms, control rooms, vaccination centres, etc. across the state. “Three Covid war rooms have already started functioning. The rest seven districts will also get war rooms soon,” Nath said.

The first Covid war room was set up in Sepahijala district on May 9, followed by West Tripura district on May 11 and in Dhalai district on May 17.

The Sepahijala war room has 37 teachers while there are 54 in West district and 30 in Dhalai district, divided into three teams.

The first team is involved in monitoring passengers who enter the district through railways, roadways or airways by collecting their details, including their contacts, addresses, expected duration of stay in the district, their Covid-19 isolation and vaccination history, etc.

The second team is involved in tracking the health of patients in home isolation till they test negative.

The third team monitors the availability of oxygen and beds, and keeps a record of contacts of doctors, hospitals, shops, ambulance drivers, etc., to address queries on the toll-free call centre run by the local administration.

“We are enjoying this work very much. We feel we are contributing to the battle against Covid in a meaningful way. Yes, there is some risk in gong outside, but we follow all precautions laid down by the government,” Krishna Dhan Das, a post graduate teacher and a team leader at Sepahijala Covid war room, told

Das heads the first team of six people at the war room and is in charge of tracking passengers coming into the state and tracing contacts of symptomatic patients who might have come in touch with them.

Joy Dasgupta is a graduate teacher and team leader of team two in the war room. His team is the largest of all three and has 11 volunteers. He said his team is divided into two further groups.

One coordinates with a list of fresh Covid patients that comes in from the DM’s office every morning, and keeps record of their health, helps them navigate healthcare institutions and updates their data to the health department’s online records. The second group maintains close contact with all active Covid patients for 14 days, starting from the positive diagnosis.

His team attends to over 600-700 people on any regular day, not mentioning the job to update it all in government portals.

Dr. Mizanur Rehman, engaged with the third team, deals in addressing problems of the patients. He found many social problems being faced by the patients, apart from health. He said some had trouble in getting food and medicines as they didn’t know anyone who could sort out such issues for them.

“Besides monitoring the health status of the patients, I got to know many patients’ helplessness in getting their required food and medicines. I solved their problems by contacting some delivery services,” said Rehman, a political science teacher at KK Nagar Higher Secondary School, who taught in a private B. Ed college till 2016.

Sepahijala District Magistrate Vishwasree B said theirs is the first Covid war room in the state.

Many teachers are helping patients beyond their usual duty hours of 10 AM-4 PM, even with challenging conditions at home,

“My job is to monitor the health condition of the patients in home isolation. I continue to follow up with them till they are cured. I even ask about health condition of their family members,” said Biplab Saha, a social science teacher at Sepahijala’s Rangapania English Medium High School. Biplab stays with his wife and 16-month-old twins, but takes on the risky job every day.

Haradhan Saha, 48, interacts with 100 patients each day. He is serving as science teacher since 1996. Currently, he is posted at Noagaon High School in West district.

Engaged in the West Tripura district war room, Saha says, “Usually, Covid patients sound afraid of the disease. We try to reduce their fear by advising them to take proper diet and medicine.” Going beyond duty, he has helped some patients by delivering them food and vegetables.

Asoke Deb, a teacher at Gomati district, said the job has been more of a passion than work, as he is getting a varied and rich experience at the war room. “It’s a certain relationship we seem to develop with these people. We are teachers, new to such work. But while doing it, we realised once again teachers build society, work to keep it well. It’s not a work, its service,” he said.

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