Pune: Two women and three men working in the red light area of Budhwar Peth have tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday (July 25) evening. The two women are sex workers while the three men are cart vendors from the Budhwar Peth area.
Sarika Lashkare, Head of Kayakalp project said, "Both the women who have tested positive for COVID-19 are below 35 years of age. They have no comorbidities. One of these women is four months pregnant. So it is necessary to admit this woman in the hospital and start treatment under expert doctors."
"Along with these two women, three men also had symptoms of COVID-19. So we had sent them to Naidu hospital for undergoing a test. The reports of this test came as positive on Saturday (July 25) evening. Doctors have advised them to quarantine at home. However, the home of these five patients is very small and other family members also stay there. So the administration should start a separate COVID Care Centre for the red light area and also conduct a test of all people residing here," said Lashkare.
The sex workers in Budhwar Peth are currently using masks to prevent infection. They think this will stop the disease from spreading while they engage in sex acts. But the reopening of the red light area will be a major health risk to citizens and sex workers. Fewer people would be able to receive treatment causing an increase in preventable deaths. If one of the persons involved in sexual activity is a potential carrier of coronavirus, there is always a danger of the other person contracting it.
The Pune Municipal Corporation and Pune Police department's planning and self-discipline of sex workers in this area had kept COVID-19 at bay so far. For the last month, no COVID-19 patient was found in this area. During the first phase of unlock, some relaxations were given in this area. But now with five cases reported in a single day in this area, the sex workers fear that administration will put curb on their activities creating problems for their livelihoods.