Family members of Covid-19 patient face stigma, get little help from officials

Chennai: With over 27,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases in the city, not just the patients, but their family members too are bearing the brunt. The viral infection not only affects a person physically, but mentally as well.

Once a Covid-19 patient is hospitalised, his/her house is identified, the family members are sent into home quarantine and asked to remain indoors.

The civic body promises the family that all essentials will be given at their doorstep and they should not step out, but this is far from reality and the instructions are easier said than done.

The family faces a lot of stigma and battles fear each day of the quarantine. During such times, a few good samaritians have stepped up to the situation.

Kumararaja of Velacheri shares how his neighbourhood has been sensitive to such quarantined families.

“There are nearly eight cases in Dhandeeswaram and 25 odd cases in areas such as Annai Indira Nagar, Kambar Street, Mahatma Gandhi Street, VGP Selva Nagar and Tansi Nagar. There is panic and fear and each house is isolated and barricaded. A banner is also put up”, he says.

However, Kumararaja looks at the cases with empathy. “Three officials of Fire and Rescue Services department contracted the illness while on duty. One patient from Mahatma Gandhi Street is a policeman and another resident had voluntarily got himself tested and found to be positive”, he explains.

On behalf of Annai Indira Nagar Residents Association, they have been distributing meals to the Fire and Rescue personnel. He says that he wears gloves, a three-layered mask and uses a hand sanitizer.

Narrating the incident of a family in quarantine he says, “Their house was sealed. The water can delivery people and the milk man refused service. The Chennnai Corporation says that there is one volunteer per ten isolated houses to ensure them supply of essentials. On the second day of isolation, the family of four with two children survived with two one-litre bottles of water for an entire day. The volunteer never picked any calls from the family”.

While Velacheri is not as badly hit as Royapuram, Tondiarpet or Teynampet, a resident of Royapuram says the situation is so grim.

“There are cases in most streets and most of the houses are in isolation. We have been hearing of deaths frequently”, the resident said.

 

Naomi N