Mumbai: Neighbours of city's first Coronavirus victim remain calm, stoic

Updated: Mar 18, 2020, 07:33 IST | Gaurav Sarkar | Mumbai

An uncomfortable silence hangs over the narrow Ghatkopar lane home to the positive patient who died on Tuesday.

A boy wearing a face mask seen near Dhobi Ghat in Mahalaxmi
A boy wearing a face mask seen near Dhobi Ghat in Mahalaxmi

The residential area of Maharashtra's first Coronavirus casualty saw few people venturing out. While local autorickshaw drivers were seen with handkerchiefs or masks covering their faces, the security guards of the deceased's building too were tested for the virus.

The 64-year-old deceased resided in Ghatkopar and died on Tuesday morning at Kasturba Hospital. "I have been going about my work with a handkerchief tied over my face since the news of COVID-19 spread last week," said an autorickshaw driver at a stand right outside the deceased's building.

Two watchmen outside the building were wearing yellow-coloured N-95 masks. All six watchmen from the building were tested for the virus three days ago and returned negative.

A man wearing a mask seen with his child outside Kasturba Hospital on Tuesday. Pic/Ashish Raj
A man wearing a mask seen with his child outside Kasturba Hospital on Tuesday. Pic/Ashish Raj

"We waited in the hospital for a long time while our tests were being done. The reports came in almost 24 hours later. I was nervous and anxious during while waiting. The negative result was a relief," said a watchman.

The other of the pair said, "My wife and kids asked me to not to go to work, but how can I do that? We still have to feed our families. No one is really panicking in the building. We have been taking every precaution possible. The building premises are regularly disinfected. But this disease can spread very easily. Jitna precaution lo utna kam hai."

A third watchman, sitting in the building's lobby, said, "The patient got infected because he went to Dubai. It might be safer if we could stay at home for 14 days, but we have to make it to work."

India's first COVID-19 case was reported on January 30. As of Tuesday, over 130 people have been infected across the country.

According to Balram Bhargava, director-general of India's top health research body — Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) — community transmission of COVID-19 is "inevitable".

He said that India has a 30-day window to prevent the beginning of community transmission — wherein a person who is not exposed to anyone infected, nor has travelled to countries affected by COVID-19 gets infected. "If the community transmission does not happen in the next 30 days, we may be at a good wicket," Bhargava said.

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