Chandigarh’s ‘super spreader’ cries foul, seeks to clear name
The GMCH-32 medical attendant denies throwing a party leading to spread of virus in Bapudham; police, too, said they found no evidence of a partyUpdated: May 04, 2020, 22:35 IST
While health workers across the country are being venerated for their roles at the frontline of the war on Covid, one health worker from Chandigarh has been rather mired in a controversy.
Not long ago, the emergency OT attendant of Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) in Sector 32 was on active duty, but his life turned upside down when he was found infected with the virus following mild fever on April 24.
His employer deserted him, saying he had caught the infection from outside, as he had thrown a party to celebrate his wedding anniversary at home with 123 people in attendance, a week before the infection on April 17.
While the police lodged a criminal case against him, the media was quick to label him ‘super spreader’ after Bapudham colony, where he lives, turned in to the city’s first main hotspot, accounting for almost half of the city’s positive cases to date.
In his locality, 51 persons tested positive, including eight of his family, three of who are his sister’s family in Sector 52 . Denying the allegations, he told HT on Monday that it was completely baseless that he had thrown a party.
“The tiny terrace of my house cannot accommodate more than 10 persons, and they are saying I hosted a party for more than a 100 people,” he said. He further added that except for his three cousins, a close friend and family members, no other person was present at his house on the occasion.
He asked that if he had hosted such a grand party, then why would he go for duty that day. “I had a morning shift from 8 am to 2 pm. When I returned home, we baked cake and celebrated among family only,” he said.
The question then remains as to how so many people in Bapudham were infected? He said, “How do I know? Like me, nobody in my neighbourhood had symptoms. The virus could have entered the locality in so many ways. Holding me responsible is unjustifiable.”
He said, “I am two hundred percent sure I got infected in the hospital.” He said despite several Covid cases, most GMCH staff had no PPE kits, which they started getting only after April 28. “I was not even given a N95 mask. I managed with a surgical mask worth ₹10. Despite this, we carried on working but slandering me is wrong,” he added.
Police public relation officer, DSP Charanjit Singh Virk, said that police investigation did not find any evidence of partying at his residence. “Apart from the 19 members of his family who live in the house, only three to four friends and cousins were present,” he said.
The first information about partying came from GMCH, said the DSP. “Dr NK Goyal, head of community medicine at GMCH, had given it to the police in writing that the OT attendant’s had 123 contacts, but he could not testify whether there was party at the attendant’s home,” the DSP said.
Dr BS Chavan, director principal of GMCH-32, said that his statement to the media that there was party at the employee’s home was based upon the ground report given by Dr NK Goyal, who supervised contact tracing on the ground. “If now, he has changed his statement to the police, I will ask him in writing about it,” he said.
When contacted, Goyal said, “My report was based on the statement of neighbours, but later they backed off from their testimony. What can we do? We had no material evidence.”