Maharashtra has so far reported the highest number of patients affected by coronavirus in the country, with 40 out of total 125 cases in India being reported from the state till Tuesday, according to Ministry of Health data. Of these, 26 are males and 14 are females. With this, the entire state government has stepped up its efforts to prevent the spread of this virus. As the part of these efforts, the local administration has taken to a constant follow up of citizens who have come from foreign countries. However, even as the number of reported cases continue to rise, the administration seems to be facing roadblocks in terms of citizens’ support in its efforts.
"When our team make calls to the family members of the persons who have flown down to India in the recent days, the people do not cooperate properly. Many times they cut the phone saying either wrong number or that person concerned is not at home. So, it has become very difficult for administration to keep a track," the district collector from the district, where two cases have been reported till now, told NewsClick.
As a precautionary measure, the state government has asked all people who have recently from foreign countries to self-quarantine for 14 days, regardless of whether or not they are displaying any symptoms. But, despite consistent requests, the people do not seem to be following the government’s guidelines.
On the other hand, there are reports of people boycotting the families of persons with recent history of foreign travel. NewsClick talked to a person from Kalyan city of Thane district, who said, "I was in Bahrain and arrived in India eight days back. But other people in my cooperative housing society got to know that I have come home. I stay with my wife and mother here. So they (people) started calling me continuously and shouting from the ground floor that I should immediately vacate the society till the threat of coronavirus is there. I told them that I have done the test and my test results are negative. Yet, they were not ready to listen. Finally I came to my native place with help of my friends.” Sudheer (name changed on request) said that his mother is a member of a political party and her party colleagues as well as his friends tried to convince their neighbours that Sudheer is not affected. But despite that, the society boycotted him.
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Apurva (name changed) is 29-year-old and had gone to Turkey as a tourist. But she said that as soon as she heard about the outbreak of Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019), she came back to India. She belongs to a well-to-do family and has self quarantined herself. "Some of the people who were returning to India with us have been kept under observation by government. My test were negative so I was asked to go. Still I am following 14 days quarantine guideline at my home," she said.
The biggest concern right now for the relatives of suspected patients is the time-consuming process of the test. "My in-laws came from Dubai. Their test took almost an entire day. What we have heard and read that in US or Britain, it took just three hours or something like that. This need to be done here in India also," said Pranav Kale from Bandra, Mumbai.
The issue of more time required for the tests has also been raised by the doctors. A senior doctor at Seven Hills Hospital, Andheri, where the government has set up an isolation ward for patients affected by Covid-19, spoke to NewsClick about this. "It is a case of overload. Tests are getting delayed because the samples coming for tests are much higher than expected. So the entire process that follows, like hospitalisation and other things are getting delayed. This needs to be done fast and for that, the test time needs to be reduced. We have informed our seniors about it," the doctor said.
There are also reports of the alleged fleeing of four patients from a hospital in Nagpur and six in Pune, leading to further panic among the administration. In order to instil confidence among patients about the proper treatment being made available in government hospitals, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray recently shared a video of a patient who was released from the hospital after being cured. In the video, a woman can be seen assuring other patients and relatives that the hospitals are dealing with the cases in a professional manner.
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