Chief minister (CM) Uddhav Thackeray on Monday urged Asha workers across the state to create awareness about making villages “corona-free”. Thackeray, also held a virtual meeting with sarpanchs of villages in three divisions — Nashik, Konkan and Pune, and said there should be a mass movement to make the villages free of Covid-19.

Speaking at a webinar for Accredited Social Health Activists (Asha) workers with the state paediatric task force, Thackeray said the role of the 68,000 Asha workers in the state will be crucial in stopping the cases among children in the possible third wave of Covid-19. He added that while Asha workers must assure parents and guardians of affected children, they must also raise awareness about making villages corona-free.

The members of the paediatric task force gave guidelines for Asha workers to follow in tackling Covid cases among infants and children. Thackeray said, “Asha workers should take charge of villages and guide the residents. They must follow the advice of the paediatric task force and refer patients to the administrative machinery immediately. There are indications that the possible third wave could impact children more, in that scenario, your role will be crucial,” the CM said.

In another meeting held virtually with sarpanchs or heads of villages from three divisions, Thackeray said that villages should adopt “my village corona-free” initiative. The second wave has hit rural Maharashtra and the state’s tier-two cities more severely than the first wave with deaths significantly higher than last year as well.

Last week, the state government launched a contest to make villages corona-free, wherein three winning villages from each of the six revenue divisions will get 50 lakh, 25 lakh and 15 lakh prize money.

“Everyone should come forward to make their village, taluka, district free of coronavirus. If all unitedly focus on this goal, the day is not far when Covid-19 will be eradicated from Maharashtra. This should become a people’s movement,” the CM said. He added that villages should ensure all restrictions are followed to contain the spread and ensure there is no crowding in any event, function, wedding, agitation or morchas in the village or taluka.

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