COVID-19: BMC slow to test high-risk contacts in Govandi

Updated: May 02, 2020, 07:05 IST | Gaurav Sarkar | Mumbai

As high-risk contacts get themselves tested and return positive, civic body forced to act; quarantines 25 in Mahul on Friday

Fever detection camp set up after the positive case was found
Fever detection camp set up after the positive case was found

It took the BMC a full week to quarantine over two dozen high-risk patients, including the family of a Govandi resident who was posthumously found to have COVID-19. Right after the woman's death on Sunday, six neighbours got themselves tested at a fever camp and four returned positive over the next few days.

The woman, 55, was admitted at Rajawadi Hospital on April 24 and died on Sunday. A local social group identified 21 people as her high-risk contacts with symptoms.

While protocol states that family members and high-risk contacts should be tested and quarantined immediately, around 25 people were isolated at Vishnu Nagar in Mahul village only on Friday.

Of the six that visited the Mankhurd fever camp on Monday, one tested positive on Wednesday and was quarantined, two on Thursday. One positive diabetic patient is still at home as they require heightened care at a hospital.

Shankar Patil, president of the Govandi-based social group Rahul Seva Mandal, who highlighted the case in an email to CM Uddhav Thackeray on April 29, said, "The woman already had hypertension and diabetes. Later, her relatives, some family members and neighbours started showing symptoms. All live in Lumbini Baug in Panchsheel chawl so it is impossible to practise social distancing. They also use common toilets."

 a fever detection camp set up after the positive case was found
A neighbour whose husband has tested positive

The mandal had conducted its survey in the chawl on Saturday. Shankar said, "Had they not decided to get themselves tested, it would have been impossible to contain the spread."

'BMC's efforts taking time'

A neighbour — whose husband is one of the positive patients — went to the fever camp on Friday. She has a fever of almost 103°C. "We did not know that the woman had COVID-19. My husband, cousins and other family members took care of her as she already had diabetes," she said.

"After her death, BMC visited the chawl to take the names of high-risk contacts and said they will visit again the next day but no one came. All 21 people should have been quarantined immediately."

The BMC set up a fever camp at the neighbouring KC International School only on Friday
The BMC set up a fever camp at the neighbouring KC International School only on Friday

"We usually go out to buy vegetables and if we are positive, we don't want to spread the disease. Most of the people who tested positive were showing mild symptoms. They don't have too high a fever or difficulty breathing," she said. "I understand if the government doesn't test or quarantine neighbours, but at least test those who live in the same house. BMC is doing its work — but it is slow. We cannot directly blame them."

'Testing symptomatic cases'

M East ward Assistant Commissioner Sudhanshu Dwivedi said efforts was doubled at the fever camp in KC International School on Friday. When asked about the lack of testing of high-risk contacts, he said, "The ICMR guidelines say only symptomatic cases need to be tested. Earlier, we had set up a fever camp in a one-km radius of the chawl. It was in Govandi but in surrounding areas such as Deonar, Lotus Colony, etc. We also barricaded the chawl on Saturday, a day after the deceased woman was taken to Rajawadi."

"We also sent out Community Health Volunteers to check on residents' health. They told residents that if anyone is feeling symptomatic, they should visit the nearest fever camp and contact them. The whole process takes five to seven days." He added: "The six people found positive had gone to a BMC fever camp but in a different area. We test only symptomatic patients."

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