Society with three coronavirus cases copes with discrimination

Published on Mar 27, 2020 12:59 AM IST
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The 21-day lockdown has come as relief for a residential complex in Tilak Nagar, where a 64-year-old man died of the Sars-CoV-2 on March 17.

The man had a past history of travel to Dubai and had returned on March 6. He had first visited a local hospital, but based on his symptoms, he was directed to PD Hinduja Hospital, where he tested positive for the virus, and was shifted to Kasturba. His wife and 30-year-old son had also tested positive, but were stable. After testing negative, the wife and son returned home on Wednesday.

The period from March 10 to 22 (Janta curfew and the beginning of the lockdown in Mumbai) was difficult. “All neighbouring societies boycotted us socially. Help, vendors, delivery persons and other outsiders were threatened against working in any other complex. Instead of educating daily workers, they scared them and showed us as carriers of the virus,” said Dakshesh Sampat, committee member and resident of the society. “There were instances in the local market where people would tell our security staff bringing essentials to remain locked up inside, as they were a ‘deadly threat’ to the entire neighbourhood,” said another resident requesting anonymity. “With Prime Minister Narendra Modi announcing a 21-day lockdown, this uncalled for social discrimination has stopped. Movement is restricted, so we don’t feel this issue anymore and there is no panic.”

After the person tested positive, the entire society, building, two wings, compound and common areas, were sanitised twice, said Sampat. “We had arranged for the chemical (sodium hypochloride cleaner disinfectant) and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) sent their staff for the clean-up. We then called the pest control staff for their special treatment for Covid-19. All security staff have been provided with sanitisers, and the chemical is used for cleaning the complex daily,” he said. Residents also approached the local police, addressing their concerns. “An official police complaint was not filed,” said Sampat, adding, “The family is back, but they are still in shock. We wanted to give them their space. Their condition is stable.”

Residents of two neigbouring societies are still worried. One confirmed that there was discrimination and the boycott was distasteful, while the other said any kind of exposure is dangerous. “Irrespective of what may happen, we as citizens need to help each other in these difficult times and not be selfish. It is better now that during this lockdown, we will all have time to reflect on how we deal with such issues,” said one of the residents. While the other pointed out, “One step outside the house, and we are knowingly and unknowingly in contact with others who may be infected. The risk is not only to us, but our entire family. The lockdown is important.”


    Badri Chatterjee is an environment correspondent at Hindustan Times, Mumbai. He writes about environment issues - air, water and noise pollution, climate change - weather, wildlife - forests, marine and mangrove conservation

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