Five of Lok Sabha staffer’s family of 12 test positive, family says delayed test reports led to spreadUpdated: Apr 30, 2020 22:35 IST
Five of a family of 12, living in a two-bedroom government quarters near Central Delhi’s Gole Market, have tested positive for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) since April 20, with the family blaming delayed reports for the disease spreading to so many members of the family within a span of nine days.
The head of the family, a 58-year-old Lok Sabha housekeeping staff member, was the first to test positive on April 20. He lives with his wife, daughter, three sons, two daughters-in-law and four grandchildren in a two-bedroom house with a covered balcony functioning as an additional room.
“My father had complained of chest pain on April 11, after which I took him to Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) hospital. Three days later, he had fever and I took him for a Covid test to RML again. On April 20, he test results came positive for Covid-19. The ambulance did not come for hours to take him to the hospital. Since beds were full at RML, we had to call up several people to get him admitted to Safdarjung,” the man’s son told HT over the phone.
On April 21, the whole family got their Covid tests done at the RML. Reports came on April 23 and the staffer’s daughter tested positive. She was shifted to the YMCA/YWCA quarantine facility of the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) the same day. All others tested negative at the time. However, one of the daughters-in-law’s report did not come.
The staffer’s son said, “After my sister tested positive, I had requested the medical staff at RML to help shift us to an isolation facility, as we have young children at home. But they told us that since none of us had symptoms, we should stay in home quarantine,” he said.
He added that days later when he checked with the authorities about his sister-in-law’s report, he was told that it may have been misplaced and they will get her sample collected and tested again, which didn’t happen, he alleged.
“Our house is small and all members of the family have to use the same bathroom,” he said.
” When my mother and brother got fever and sore throat, all three of us again got our Covid tests done on April 25. Mine as well as my mother’s report came on April 29 (Wednesday) evening. We again waited for almost two hours for the ambulance to arrive. My brother’s report had not come even then. He had to isolate himself in the balcony to keep away from children,” the staffer’s son said.
The son and the staffer’s wife’s were shifted late Wednesday to the YMCA/YWCA quarantine facility. The other son’s report came a day later, on Thursday evening.
The others in the neighbourhood Thursday said that they will write to the local authorities to shift the family to a quarantine facility, as social distancing was not possible in the small house and more members might end up getting infected.
Rebat Ram Dobhal, president of the local RWA said the family had a hard time even getting to the hospital. “I had to call up the local authorities to help send ambulances. We plan to write to them to move the family to a safer quarantine facility, as they may infect each other. Also, it poses a risk to others in the building,”Dobhal said.
Four civil defence volunteers have been deployed to supply essentials to the sealed building that houses 15 flats.
All the staffer’s son wants now is that the rest of his family’s samples are collected from home and they do not have to go out again to a hospital. “Initially when I took my father for his heart check-up onApril 11, the hospital staff was not taking adequate measures to keep the non-Covid patients separated from Covid patients. My father was made to sit on the same bench where a Covid patient had sat minutes ago. He contracted the infection from there. Now I just pray that our children remain safe,” he said.
New Delhi district health officials said in designated hospitals, it usually takes two days for the reports to arrive. “There could be a slight delay on account of medical facilities being burdened with tests from containment zones. We have already asked them to speed up test results,” a senior government official, who did not wish to be named, said.
A senior official from the RML hospital, on condition of anonymity, said, “There is no delay in reports. It varies from case to case. In some cases, it may take three or four days for the report to come, while in others, the test has to be repeated, and the reports may take longer. The sample load at testing labs is also high.”
A senior Delhi government official, looking after the Gole Market area, who did not wish to be named, said only the block where the Lok Sabha staffer was living, has been sealed so far because all cases are from the same family. “There are about seven or eight other cases in Gole Market area,” the official said.