21 occupants of AIIMS shelter home test positive
At least 21 occupants of a shelter home that houses outstation patients and their attendants who come to the Capital for treatment at AIIMS ested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday evening, district officials aware of the developments said.Updated: May 23, 2020 05:45 IST
At least 21 occupants of a shelter home that houses outstation patients and their attendants who come to the Capital for treatment at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday evening, district officials aware of the developments said.
Many of the infected -- including a seven-year-old who has been battling cancer for over two years -- are already suffering from serious diseases and are in need of long-term treatment.
The cases emerged after two patients suffering from kidney ailments who were staying at the same Delhi government shelter tested positive on Monday. “The Covid positive reports of the 21 at the shelter, majority of whom are patients of cancer and kidney disease, came on Thursday evening. Following the two kidney patients who were found positive earlier, tests were conducted of 51 occupants,” one of the district officials cited above said on condition of anonymity.
He added that all the 21 fresh infections were moved to quarantine facilities at the Lok Nayak Hospital, Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospital and AIIMS Jhajjar; at least seven other people from the shelter who have symptoms of the disease, but whose tests results are awaited, have been taken to the Chhatarpur quarantine facility; around 50 others, mostly attendants, have been put under in-situ quarantine at the shelter itself.
The Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) shelter home (number 148) located near gate number 5 of AIIMS had over 80 occupants until Thursday.
“These patients were living in a rain basera (night shelter)-like place. They have been admitted to various hospitals for treatment. Actually, only those with some comorbid conditions are admitted to hospitals,” said Dr DK Sharma, the medical superintendent of AIIMS.
A DUSIB official, who asked not to be named, said the staff has been sanitising the shelter complex, including the common toilets and bathing spaces. “The shelter has a capacity of housing around 300 people. Most of the patients and their families have already left for their home states over the past weeks, so there is enough room for maintaining social distancing. We ensure that patients do not come in close contact with each other,” he said.
People staying at the shelter said that it had around 200 occupants until last month but a a large number of occupants left for their native villages over the past few weeks because the AIIMS out-patient department (OPD) was shut from March 24 onwards because of the national lockdown to contain the Covid-19 spread. Only emergency services, as well as some other wings such as cancer and gynaecology, were open with limited staff. The AIIMS administration had earlier this week said that select OPD services are likely to open soon, but have not been reopened yet.
The mother of the seven-year-old who has been infected said they had travelled for treatment from Darbhanga in Bihar. “My son has been suffering from a critical disease already, and now he has got this virus. We could not even leave from Delhi -- I don’t know what will happen now and when will they return,” the woman said over the phone. She is in quarantine at the shelter with her two other children.
Sandhya Devi, who came for her husband’s treatment for a liver tumour in February from Gopalganj, said they were waiting for his last chemotherapy session scheduled for May 27, after which they had hoped of leaving for home. “The doctor had told us that after the last chemo session, my husband may be fit enough to go back. Now, I don’t know for how long we will have to wait for treatment,” she said.
“The occupants at the shelter have been using the common toilet facilities. Though we provide food and other essentials, they have been tired of the long wait to go back home. Since many of them were already battling diseases, the families have been worried of their members contracting the virus,” said Nitesh Kumar, project coordinator, SPYM, an NGO that runs the shelter for the Delhi government.
The media advisor to the chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said, “We will examine the matter and directions will be issued to concerned agencies for swift action.”
Sunil Kumar Aledia, a social activist who works with homeless people, said: “The government must arrange for proper medical care for these patients because they are already facing trauma because of the diseases and running out of their savings because of the lockdown.”