Residents allege that a doctor living in the 300-home housing society has been prescribing COVID tests for maids, claiming they have had fever for a week
The resident of Oberoi Gardens has also said the society discriminates between maids and other people. Pics/ Satej Shinde
The pandemic is forcing residential societies in the city to become overtly cautious about allowing outsiders in. So much so, that they are telling house help and drivers to produce health certificates. Oberoi Gardens in Kandivli has allegedly told house help to provide negative COVID-19 test reports. A society resident has complained to BMC saying a doctor on the premises gives prescriptions for such tests without even examining the maids.
Based on the complaint sent to the R South ward office and the chief minister on June 24, the resident said the managing committee members of the society were only allowing full-time maids who could produce negative COVID-19 test reports to prove that they were not infected. In the letter, the resident claimed the committee was discriminating between maids and other people, saying while part-time maids weren't allowed, technicians for repair work were allowed based on health certificates even though the risk of the infection spreading was the same. The society has about 300 flats.
'It is unethical'
The complainant told mid-day that since a prescription was mandatory to get a test, she approached Dr. Prakash Gupta, who lives in the society. "He issued a false prescription for the maid's COVID-19 test to me. It wrongly mentioned that the maid was suffering from fever for the past seven days and that other tests for dengue and malaria had already been conducted, which wasn't true since he never met our maid. This is unethical and he charged R500 for it," she said.
Another resident of the society confirmed that the maids were asked to produce COVID-19 test reports and that they were "fed up" with the society's rules. "In many societies, maids are allowed after taking precautions like wearing masks, checking oxygen levels and temperature. Then why should our society ask maids to get COVID-19 tests done? We have been paying them for three months and we need their help now. At some point, we will have to let things get back to normal," he said.
Confirming that they had received the complaint, assistant municipal commissioner Sanjay Kurhade said that it was the same problem in many societies. "Issuing such prescriptions for COVID-19 tests to asymptomatic people is not legal. We will inspect the society to verify it and will issue a notice to the doctor if this is found to be true," he said.
'I always examine patients'
When contacted, Dr Gupta refuted the allegations and said he doesn't issue prescriptions without examining the patients. "I have never issued such prescriptions and I examine all patients without fail. I am a responsible doctor and have been practising for 40 years. In case of doubtful cases, I refer the patients for rigorous examinations before recommending them tests," he said. He added that he examines the relatives of patients at home and sends their certificates to the gate.
When asked whether the society was asking for a negative COVID-19 test report from maids, society secretary Raj Kumar Tiwari said, "Earlier we were asking for it since there were no guidelines. But now we are following rules issued by the Housing Federation." He added that they have a pro forma that maids have to fill out to declare that they were not coming from a Contaminated Zone and that they don't have symptoms. The maids have also been asked to download the Aarogya Setu app.
Speaking against the stand taken by both Oberoi Gardens as well as the Housing Federation, Shashank Rao, president of Maharashtra Gharelu Kamgar Union said regulations had no legal basis. "Why should a maid be told to live in the society or get a COVID-19 test done? The residents are all going to office every day. Are they asked to produce a negative test report?" asked Rao.
He added that the union opposed the regulations since they were discriminatory. "If maids are allowed to live inside, the same rule should apply to plumbers, electricians and drivers. The government has not made these rules and people should complain against it. We are dealing with an illness and all we have to do is take necessary precautions," he said.
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