Fifty two-year-old Shaukat Patel was visiting his hometown in Bharuch, Gujarat, after 12 years. Instead, he landed in the swine flu isolation ward at Kasturba Hospital.
Health authorities at the Mumbai airport directed Patel, who runs a dairy farm in Manchester where he has lived for over 35 years, to Kasturba as soon as he landed at the airport on his way to Bharuch.
“He is feeling like being confined in a prison,” said Shiraz, Patel’s younger brother, while waiting for the flu report.
Laxmi Gupta (38), a housewife and a resident of Tardeo, visited Kasturba to get three of her children screened as per the directive from their school. “On Thursday, the school issued a notice to all the guardians saying they must get their children tested for swine flu,” Gupta said.
For Gupta and many others, Sunday provided an opportunity to get swine flu tests done. With new centres screening and testing suspects in the suburbs, people visited the centre closest to home. At Siddharth Hospital, Goregaon, over 350 people registered for the screening till afternoon.
“We have examined around 56 people, and sent 11 throat swabs to Kasturba Hospital till now,” said Dr RR Tripathi, chief medical officer at the hospital.
At Bhagwati Hospital in Borivli, people waited in a serpentine queue. “Around 85 patients have been checked and six throat swabs collected,” said Vijaya Bhatt, deputy medical superintendent.
Decentralising screening centres spared many from travelling long distances. “I was dreading going to Kasturba. As MT Agarwal Hospital started screening, I rushed here at 8.30 am,” said Sujata Srinivasan, a Navi Mumbai resident whose 17-year-old daughter was suffering from fever.
At Rajawadi Hospital in Ghatkopar, people had to wait for hours after the hospital exhausted testing kits used for collecting swab samples and had to order them from Kasturba.