Coronavirus outbreak: Inside Mumbai's isolation centres

Updated: Apr 07, 2020, 07:18 IST | Samiullah Khan, Diwakar Sharma, Vishal Singh | Mumbai

With not enough nutrition, filthy beds, dirty loos, some of those staying there say it is better to die than live in these places

Doctors at a One Rupee Clinic conduct thermal checks on passers-by near Kurla railway station. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
Doctors at a One Rupee Clinic conduct thermal checks on passers-by near Kurla railway station. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi

The government is trying its best to control the spread of COVID-19 and has converted most government hospitals, hotels, resorts, abandoned buildings into isolation wards where suspected patients have been kept under observation. But those 'under observation' here, feel it was better if they had died instead of being brought there, as conditions are deplorable, they say.

Some also alleged that the doctors don't pay attention to them. mid-day spoke to a few people who have been kept in isolation wards.

"We did not get water with breakfast and got a water bottle of half litre each with lunch and dinner. I raised this issue with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) employee here and asked him, 'Have we been kept in the isolation wards to remain thirsty? It would have been better if we were left to die'. The BMC official assured me we will get enough water to drink," said a 37-year-old Kurla resident, who has been kept under isolation in a hotel in Sakinaka.

'No food for 24 hrs'
A 28-year-old businessman from Shireenbai Chawl in Mumbai Central and his nine relatives have tested positive and have been kept in different hospitals in Mumbai. Another relative of his has alleged that since being admitted 24 hours back, he has not been given food. "The businessman has been admitted to the civic hospital in Powai. It has been more than 24 hours since he was admitted, but neither has a doctor visited him nor has he been given food. He will die of starvation," the relative said. He also claimed that neither of those admitted have been attended to by doctors. Their relatives have expressed their concerns on Twitter and tagged the chief minister, health minister and others but neither of them took cognisance of the tweet. Their relatives and other COVID-19 suspected patients have alleged that the condition of the isolation wards is extremely unhygienic. The beds and the floors are dirty and they were forced to use the common toilets and bathroom.

No milk or food for kids
Another person said that 10 of his relatives were admitted in Shatabdi Hospital's isolation ward in Kandivli after the death of a 68-year-old relative who tested positive for COVID-19. Since April 1, he said seven members tested negative and were discharged, but three family members including two children - the younger child is 2-years-old - are still in the isolation ward. He claimed the hospital authorities told him to get milk and food for the children as they don't have the facility for them.

Another 40-year-old was isolated with his nine family members after the death of his father who tested COVID-19 positive on March 31, at Shatabdi hospital's isolation centre. He and six family members tested negative but three other family members are still in the isolation ward.

Speaking to mid-day, he said the condition of the isolation ward is terrible. "Suspected COVID-19 patients and isolated patients are kept in the same ward. In my four days of isolation neither was the ward was sanitised nor was the floor was cleaned. The food was sub-standard. In such conditions, a healthy person could also become ill."

The conditions are said to be similar at the ESIS Kamgar hospital isolation centre, where 63 nurses from Shatabdi hospital were isolated after the death of a COVID-19 positive patient. The nurses have put up videos and photos of the isolation ward on social media.

Fortunately, for the 108 people of Worli koliwada, who have been kept in the isolation ward of MA Podar hospital, mid-day's report on the quality of food given to them got them a visit by the mayor of Mumbai. After the visit, they have been getting decent food from Monday.

'This is breakfast, and lunch'
Powai's MCMCBR (MCGM Centre for Municipal Capacity Building and Research) building has been turned into a quarantine centre with 50 people on one floor. People here said they don't get food on time. Breakfast is available at 11 am and lunch at 3 pm.

A 47-year-old man said, "Today we were given rajma-rice at 1 pm and told it is breakfast and lunch."

"My father was found to be COVID-19 positive, after which I was kept in the isolation ward here. I have been here for 10 days but the doctor has not told me anything so far," he added.

Another 36-year-old man said, "I was tested on March 30 and found to be positive but have not been tested after that. The doctors are not telling anything."

Despite repeated messages to him regarding the issue, Municipal Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi was not available for comment.

43
No. of people who have died of COVID-19 in the city till date

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