Scenes from Mumbai
Scenes from Mumbai
Mitesh Bhuvad

Mumbai: Having been through the current equivalent of hell and back, a technician from Chembur, who has not just survived but fully recovered from coronavirus, has this message for the rest of us: Running scared? Do not panic, this disease is not insurmountable, as is the popular perception. Banging on plates, creating a din or lighting candles too will not work, he says.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the powers-that-be must focus on important issues like increased, affordable testing to fight the virus. "I think there is nothing much to panic. Everyone must remain calm and, most importantly, follow the doctor's instructions and abide by health advisories.

Stay indoors and break the chain, so that the virus does not spread further," said Namdev Sable, 54, a resident of Tata Colony, Chembur. According to Namdev's son Kanishk, 23, his father had no travel history and is most likely a case of local transmission.

"He was home for at least 11 days and was on medication prescribed by our colony doctor. Since his condition did not improve, we got him tested and found he was infected. He was admitted to SevenHills hospital," said Kanishk.

"Subsequently, the civic officials contacted us and the rest of our family was taken to Kasturba Hospital, where I was kept in isolation as I tested negative but my mother was shifted to SevenHills since she was found to be infected," he added.

Soon the entire colony was sealed by civic officials and every household was asked to follow quarantine rules strictly. "There was too much panic in our colony. It is obvious that people are so scared that no one wanted to speak to us.

Even after his discharge, the situation is the same, but no one actually objected to my father's entry in the colony," said Kanishk. Senior civic officials informed that Namdev was discharged within seven days of his admission and treatment.

"Initially, I was scared, given whatever news I had read or watched. But during treatment, the positive reinforcement from doctors helped me calm down and realise there was nothing much to fear," recounts Namdev.

The Sables are all praise for the doctors' efforts but have criticised the Central government for failing to provide the requisite amenities. "There was no ambulance to drop me home when I was discharged on Sunday (April 5).

I had to come back home with a friend in our office vehicle. Similarly, my wife, who was discharged on Tuesday (April 7) also returned home in the office vehicle as, again, there were no ambulances," claims Sable. "I think banging utensils and lighting candles will not suffice.

The PM must focus on other important issues such as providing more personalised protective equipment (PPE) and providing for more testing labs, at affordable rates," Sable observes. In isolation at Kasturba Going by the Sables' account, even a person who is hale and hearty might get infected, given the abysmal hygiene standards at the civic-run Kasturba Hospital. Further, the food served to patients barely passes muster, they claimed.

"I was in their isolation ward for 24 hours. The beds here are hardly a foot away from each other. I think isolation wards are supposed to ensure the virus does not spread and there is no close contact. How was social distancing being followed in the scenario I witnessed?" asked Kanishk.

"The food I was served included half-cooked rice and dal. There was no cleanliness at all in the hospital. I shifted to the SevenHills hospital, where the arrangements were much better than at Kasturba," Kanishk added.

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