Mumbai civic body finds ‘smart’ way to fight Covid-19

Mumbai: In a bid to fill up the communication gap between the patients and their kin amid pandemic, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has distributed more than 50 smartphones in Covid-19 jumbo centres on Saturday. Moreover, they have also planned to procure 600 tablets with an aim to connect patients with their families via video chat.

Senior officials said that since the pandemic outbreak, most of the patients are suffering from depression or mental health due to the absence of family around. Providing them with smartphones or tablets will help them to fight against the virus. “Due to the contagious nature of Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, patients are being kept in isolation wards where relatives aren't allowed to go inside. Patients have to stay alone for days until their treatment gets over. To address this issue, we are providing smartphones which will be free of cost,” he said.

Suresh Kakani, Additional Municipal Commissioner, BMC said they have observed that the patients admitted at BMC hospitals recovered soon due to their constant touch or communication with their relatives. Although it is not scientifically proven, they believe it may help in earlier recovery of patients. “Such chats help reduce stress. We have used gadgets for such chats in a pilot project earlier and after its success decided to procure more for all our hospitals in a phase-wise manner according to the need. Ward boys will facilitate communication between patients and their family members through these gadgets,” he said.

The BMC is in the process to procure 600 tablets for the same which will be available by the next weekend. A budget of Rs1.3 crore has been allocated for the same. "We have wifi in all the centres, so there won't be any problem in chatting. The patients won't have to provide any money for that. We have also bought the sim cards and will recharge the phones from our budget," said Kakani.

City-based psychiatrists have welcomed the move as it might help to improve the mental health condition of patients. "Patients irrespective of their age or gender get scared when they get detected with Covid-19. In such a situation, when they stay alone for days, it leads to depression and anxiety. Many patients experience the same sadness even after they get discharged. But if they talk to their family daily, it might contribute to their faster recovery," said Dr Harish Shetty, a psychiatrist.

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