Confusion leading to hostility towards Covid-19 patients in Vizag


An informal survey by a group of doctors, healthcare professionals and people who have recovered from Covid-19 has revealed that the fear of the coronavirus is growing and stoking neighbours’ hostile behaviour towards infected people in the city. Public health experts and doctors said there was confusion among people over issues such as how long a Covid patient sheds virus after recovery, how long a contact of a positive case should remain quarantined and how exactly the virus spreads. The confusions are mainly responsible for the social problems, they said.

In many areas in Jalaripeta in one town area in Muslim Thatichetlapalem and in other areas of the city, people are installing barricades with bamboo poles in front of houses of Covid patients, refusing to allow members of a patient’s family to collect water from a common source and telling family members to keep the windows and doors of their house closed all the time.

The family of a Covid patient staying in the Allipuram area alleged that they were facing hostile behavior from some residents of the building after the 14-day quarantine period ended. One of the three brothers in the family had tested positive for Covid-19 more than two weeks before and been admitted to KGH. “Hospital officials said our quarantine period was over and moreover, we did not have any symptoms. But since last week, some neighbours have been abusing and threatening my mother and other family members whenever they are going downstairs to collect water,” one of the brothers told Hello Vizag. “There are four taps. We had requested the other families to allow us to collect water from one but they refused.”

Residents of Kobbari thota, have installed a bamboo barricade in front of the house of a Covid patient. Ravvala Naidu, resident of the area, said “erecting such bamboo poles become symbol of stigma. The family members feel outcast”.

“Despite awareness drives, the fear is triggering reactions which are not based on scientific reasoning. We are forgetting that we live in a society. The stigma is so strong in some parts of the city that it is horrifying. People are not even ready to touch a Covid patient,” said K.S.L.G. Sastry, Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) of GVMC.

“Guidelines of the Indian Council of Medical Research states that family members who have been exposed to the patient need to stay in quarantine for 14 days. After that they can go out after taking protections, such as wearing a mask,” Dr. K Santosh Kumar, MD & General Physician said. “The fear and hostile behaviour are triggered by confusions over guidelines. In this case, the family members of the patient had spent 14 days in quarantine. But neighbours objected when they wanted to come out after that period.

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