Coronavirus outbreak: Woman's mystery quarantine ends

Updated: Apr 21, 2020, 07:11 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

Kalina resident is back home after testing negative, but officials still have no answers about why she was isolated in the first place

The Kalina resident
The Kalina resident

Kalina resident Julieta Maria Augusta Fernandes, 53, who was whisked away to a Santacruz quarantine centre without being given a reason, except that her name was on a PMO list, was released late on Saturday, on testing negative for COVID-19.

What is bewildering though, is that she still does not know why she was taken into quarantine, or what exactly led to this action by officials.

Fernandes said, "I was at dinner with my husband and daughter on Thursday (April 16) night and a team of BMC and police officers came to my flat. They said that there has been a complaint via the PMO, so I had to accompany them to a quarantine centre. I was shocked as I stated repeatedly that I had been at home since the lockdown. Even my building committee members supported me."

Fernandes and her husband were put in an ambulance and taken to a hotel in Santacruz. He was allowed to accompany her, on her insistence. On Friday afternoon, a swab was taken and late Saturday she was told that she had tested negative for COVID-19 and she could go home. They went home to their Kalina flat on Saturday night. Fernandes said, "I tested negative and officials at the quarantine centre simply told me that I was being released. I continue to be clueless about why I was taken into quarantine in the first place."

A senior BMC official said, "The person in question tested negative and was sent home. Complaints about Coronavirus are confidential, and details are not revealed." When the official was asked whether there may have been some problem with the Arogya Setu app which is linked to the PMO office, he said he had no idea about that.

Traumatic experience
Abraham Mathai, former vice-chairman, Minorities Commission said, "Ms Fernandes has no history of travel and has not even left her home post the lockdown. She did not have any symptoms even getting a green tick after she filled in details on the Arogya Setu App. Why then was she whisked away by the BMC and the police like a COVID-19 patient?"

Mathai added that apps like these may be a "great breakthrough for such times and have become popular for their efficient technology, but their findings need to be balanced with human wisdom and discernment. Assuming that the tracking by the App was right, it should have been co-related with due diligence of a clinical assessment for symptoms and a thorough investigation to understand her travel movements for the past one month. Another solution was that they could have been home quarantined, as per BMC guidelines, as they live in a flat and not slums where social distancing is difficult." Mathai ended strongly, "I wonder if the COVID-19 negative report will ever erase all the trauma that she and her family went through."

18 Apr
Day she was released after testing negative

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