Dubai, March 31, 2020: An Indian expat in Dubai has emerged as one of the unsung heroes in the time of coronavirus lockdown in the Gulf nation as everyday he hits the road on his bike to do food deliveries to ensure that people don’t step out of their houses during the closure.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), of which Dubai is a member, has reported 570 cases of coronavirus and three deaths. The UAE has extended the nationwide lockdown till April 5.
Home deliveries of food items have been exempted from the purview of the lockdown.
Murali Shambantham, a delivery man working in Dubai for the past 15 years, said he never thought that he would have to face such unprecedented times. However, the 42-year-old, who continued with his regular job amid the lockdown, said he is grateful that he is being able to support a family of four back in Tamil Nadu’s Ariyalur town, the Khaleej Times reported on Monday.
"Someone needs to do this job...Food is an essential item. How can you deprive someone of food? If we don’t step up, how will people who do not have running kitchens in their homes eat?" he asked.
Mr Shambantham, however, is aware of the risk of exposure from people who are seemingly asymptomatic.
Masks and gloves are his weapons against the deadly viral infection as he hits the road on his two-wheeler to do food deliveries for a Dubai-based Indian restaurant.
"I know it can be contracted through cough droplets or by touching infected surfaces. Therefore, I make sure to wear gloves and mask to protect myself, apart from regularly sanitising hands even after I park my bike. I also maintain a certain physical distance and lean forward to handover the parcel," Mr Shambantham said.
He said food delivery men cannot constantly keep feeling threatened.
They need to be committed to their professions.
"It’s not merely about the bills that we have to pay, but we must ensure our customers are fed and keep it going for everyone," Mr Shambantham was quoted as saying by the report.
He underlined that people are also careful while collecting food parcels. "They touch the bottom of the packet, while I hold the top. Customers also come out of their apartment blocks quickly, without making us wait for long, as at present, we are not allowed to enter the lobby," Mr Shambantham said.