Not caste or religion, but the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a new form of untouchability in rural pockets of Andhra Pradesh. In the latest incident at Ethamanuvalasa village under Panchipenta Mandal in Vizianagaram district, a Covid-19 patient’s family members and relatives were ostracised by the villagers. The Covid patient’s family members (15 people, including children and women) have been forced to take shelter in a cattle shed on the outskirts of the village after being socially boycotted by the villagers.
According to sources, N Rao, a migrant worker, came to the village from Hyderabad. He stayed with his family members in the village. The virus a few days ago and he was shifted to Covid-19 care centre. However, the family members of the patients were neither shifted to a quarantine facility nor to a hospital. Suspecting that the family members of the Covid-19 patient may spread the virus, the villagers banished them from the village and they asked them to stay in the cattle shed located on the outskirts of the village.
“Only Covid-19 family members can understand the kind of social stigma we face these days. It’s painful and depressing. We are not in a position to prepare food for ourselves as we have no ration. We have been staying in the cowshed for the past two days,” the family members of Covid-19 patient told newsmen.
“We do not go out to buy groceries or vegetables to avoid the questioning gaze of people. Even the traders do not want us to come there,” they added. The family members of the Covid-19 patient are requesting the officials of the Medical and Health and Police departments to shift them to a quarantine centre immediately as they may die of hunger if they stay in the cattle-shed for some more day.