'Many patients found, still looking for rest', say civic officials

Updated: Jul 04, 2020, 07:00 IST | Arita Sarkar | Mumbai

BMC to take help from private labs to trace missing COVID patients

BMC is also trying to trace those who came in contact with missing patients. FILE PIC
BMC is also trying to trace those who came in contact with missing patients. FILE PIC

Even after efforts made by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Mumbai police in tracing missing COVID-19 patients, many of them from a number of administrative wards in the city still remain untraceable. Hence, civic officials have now decided to reach out to private labs for additional information on these patients so that they, and all those who have come in contact with them, can be traced.

According to civic officials, many of these patients had given incorrect addresses and phone numbers during tests, as they were not from Mumbai. Until last month, in P North ward there were 70 patients who could not be found and the civic body had reached out to the police for help in looking for them using call data records.

Civic officials further said that it was important to trace the missing patients as contact-tracing had to be done.

Sanjog Kabare, assistant municipal commissioner of P North ward, said these cases were from Kurar Village, Malwani and Dindoshi areas, and while most of them have been found, around nine are still missing. "These patients are mostly from slum areas. When we found them, most of the patients were admitted in government hospitals. They couldn't charge their phones so were unreachable. In some of the other cases, we couldn't find anyone at their homes to verify details of patients since the relatives had accompanied them to hospitals. It was only when they switched on their phones or returned home that they were found," he said.

When contacted, additional police commissioner Dilip Sawant said that barring nine patients, the police have found the rest. "The cops did a lot of field work and were able to trace the patients by speaking to neighbours and through technical analysis. We are still looking for the rest and will find them soon," he said.

Kabare further said, "We are trying to map their locations through any references they may have given to private labs. We will try to trace them and submit their information."

Similarly, in L ward, the search for 27 COVID-19 patients is still underway and ward officials said that many of them had come to Mumbai for treatment due to lack of facilities near their homes.

"Testing facilities outside the city are poor due to which the patients came here. They gave fake addresses and incorrect phone numbers. We have managed to trace 200 patients so far. However, in the past 20 days not a single patient has gone missing. Private laboratories have asked for some time to gather the information," said Dr Jitendra Jadhav, health officer of L ward. Civic officials said that in G North ward, which includes Dharavi, there were around 100 such cases.

"These cases were reported several weeks ago and most of them have possibly recovered by now. Many patients have even moved out of the city. We, however, continue to look for them," said Kiran Dighavkar, assistant municipal commissioner of G North ward.

Last month, about 1,000 COVID-19 patients from across the city were missing. While the search for many of them continues, the civic body has made it mandatory for patients to submit ID cards as address proof.

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