Many families with novel coronavirus positive patients are spending anxious moments quarantined at home. Some share public washrooms with the entire community while others living in small houses are somehow trying to manage home isolation.
22-year-old Priyanka lives with her family at Suhagam Singh Chawal, Gaon Devi at Vakola pipeline, Santacruz East. She lost her father, 55-year-old Babban Rai on May 6. He worked as a cleaner at a Doctor’s clinic in Santacruz West. He had a fever and was taken to Bhabha hospital by relatives on May 3. On May 5, his samples returned positive for Covid-19 and he succumbed to the infection on May 6.
“We were telling papa that he should get himself tested. A policeman had been to the clinic where papa worked and he had tested positive. My father had a fever for many days. We told him to go to a municipal hospital but he kept saying that the Doctor at his clinic is giving him medicine for fever and has told him that it is only a viral. So he did not go. Then on Sunday his condition deteriorated so we took him to the hospital. But he passed away on Wednesday,” an inconsolable Priyanka told India Today.
‘Stood in line day my father passed away’
Priyanka also shed light on the procedure for family members of Covid-19 patients. She said, “Even on the day papa passed away, we stood in line for tests at the hospital for 3-4 hours. BMC doctors at Bhabha told us that they do not have space to quarantine us so they will not check us. They asked us to go to Kasturba or Nair hospital. But neither did they give us an ambulance nor any other vehicle. So we came home.”
Residents of the Chawl at Vakola where Priyanka lives with her family were shocked to see them return home. There are about 2,000 people who live in the area and use a common washroom. The neighbourhood was alarmed and made the family stand on the main road while they called up the BMC helpline and even the police.
But none of the authorities turned up to take Priyanka and her family to an institutional quarantine facility. “We kept waiting on the road till 12:30, then my brother Sudhir’s condition started getting worse and he started feeling out of breath. Seeing this, the neighbours asked us to come home,” recounts Priyanka.
It was on May 7 that all of the family members managed to go to Cooper Hospital. However, only five out of the six family members were tested for Covid-19 at the hospital.
‘Thousands use common toilet’
Babloo Jha, who lives right next to Priyanka’s residence says, “I called up the BMC helpline and must have made hundreds of calls asking someone to help the family and take them to be quarantined. But no one came. Thousands of us here use a common toilet. No one knows how we will manage with that family here.”
Priyanka also told India Today, “The doctor (at Cooper Hospital) said my sister Pooja does not have symptoms so she does not need to be tested. How can they do that? All of us were together looking after our father.”
“They asked us to go home and quarantine. We went to the washroom in the hospital itself so that we can minimise going to the common washroom. But how will we manage in the coming days as the doctor said that the report will take four days to come?” says Priyanka’s sister Pooja as she breaks down over the demise of their father.
Tested for Malaria, Typhoid and not Covid-19
A music teacher at a school for blind children, Nitesh Sonawane had not been feeling well on April 27. The visually impaired Nitesh went to a local doctor and was prescribed medicines but his fever refused to abate.
The local doctor asked him to get tested for Malaria and even administered medicine for the same. Nitesh’s report came negative for Malaria but since his fever refused to subside, he went to the government-run Shatabdi hospital on April 30. However, he was tested for Typhoid instead of the novel coronavirus. His report returned negative for Typhoid On May 4. Nitesh then went back but the doctors at Shatabdi hospital did not feel the need to test him for Covid-19.
Apart from Nitesh, his parents started feeling unwell and his wife developed a cough which is when the music teacher decided to get himself tested privately for the coronavirus infection. He requested his doctor for a prescription and got himself tested for Covid-19 at a private lab. His samples returned positive for coronavirus on May 6.
‘Lack of doctors’ prescription putting family in danger’
“No authorities called up, so I myself went to Rajawadi Hospital. They asked me to go to Sion or to KEM hospital. I told them that I cannot go and even my family felt that being visually impaired, I might find it difficult to be in institutional quarantine. So I stayed home. I called up the BMC helpline number. The BMC officials finally did come but have asked us to report only when any of us become breathless. But the family has not been tested,” Nitesh told India Today.
He also said that he is unable to get his family tested for Covid-19 without a doctor’s prescription.
BMC assures action in Priyanka’s case but no comment on Nitesh’s case
BMC officials said that if there is a common washroom, then Priyanka and her family should have been quarantined. The civic body is promising to look into the case and say there is adequate space available to quarantine the family in Vakola area.
Responding to the unnecessary delay in Nitesh’s case, senior BMC officials said they do not want to comment on individual cases but the doctors at Shatabdi would have taken a decision only after proper clinical examination. Other diseases are also quite widespread in some areas of Mumbai, claimed civic body officials.