Coronavirus Mumbai
Coronavirus Mumbai
Shashank Parade

Mumbai: On one hand, the state government has advised people to step out only when it is strictly necessary, so as to avoid community transmission of COVID-19 and, on the other hand, at the only testing centre for the disease at Kasturba Hospital, there are serpentine queues to merely obtain the outpatient department (OPD) slip to get tested for coronavirus; in the given circumstances, social distancing can be safely ruled out, especially since they sit in a cluster on chairs and benches awaiting their turn for testing.

A patient, who had recently returned from Dubai, visited Kasturba Hospital for a check-up on March 15; but the visit spooked her instead, as she sensed she could contract an infection in the hospital, since there are no proper guidelines on testing for COVID-19.

“As I had returned from Dubai, I thought of getting myself examined at Kasturba Hospital, although I had no symptoms. But when I visited the hospital, it was a scary scenario -- crowded, with most of those in line coughing or sneezing, enough to make a person nervous.

Because even if one person in the line had the virus, everybody would get it,” said Prakriti Arya, a Mumbai resident.

Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner (AMC), health, said hospital authorities were handling patients according to their health issues. Several arrangements have been made at the hospital for those coming in for COVID-19 testing.

“When a person comes for testing, they are first given a mask to wear and asked to get an OPD slip for testing. Then they are seated until it is their turn.

There is a gap of at least three feet between two chairs. Only if an individual moves his/her chair closer to talk or ask questions, could there be a possibility of infection. They should not remove their masks,” he said.

“I reached the hospital around 9am. There were posters saying 'Corona Virus OPD Ward No.9', pointing towards the ward.

As I asked a policeman standing there, where Ward No.9, was, he said I would have to stand in the general OPD line first, get a slip, and then go to Ward No.9. So I stood in the queue with about 20 people ahead of me.

After about 20 minutes, it was my turn and the lady at the counter asked me my name, address, phone number, illness, and gave me the slip.

Then I went to Ward No.9, and there was another queue inside, as doctors were seeing one person at a time,” Arya explained.

AMC Kakani said they had urged citizens not to throng hospitals for check-ups as only those with travel histories to affected countries or with proximity to infected patients are being tested at Kasturba.

“Citizens should first consult their family doctors or physician before coming to Kasturba Hospital.

If they have symptoms of seasonal ailments, they should take medicines and resort to ‘home quarantine’ for 14 days. However, people fail to understand this and start crowding hospitals,” he added.

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