In a strange development, asymptomatic COVID-19 patients in Bengaluru are allegedly forced to get admitted to the government-run COVID Care Centres even if they have adequate facilities to undergo isolation at their own homes. Apart from being an exercise of poor utilization of beds which are in a limited number, it has also exposed the lacunas of the CCCs.
TNM spoke to at least three patients who claimed that they were forced to go to the CCCs even when they had adequate facilities to be under home isolation following the government protocols.
Nikhil Soni and his uncle, residents of Cubbonpet, had tested positive for the novel coronavirus on August 1 and had opted for home isolation as the doctor diagnosed them as being asymptomatic.
While they were maintaining home isolation till August 5, BBMP officials reportedly said that they needed to be transferred as their home facilities were not “suitable”.
Speaking to TNM, Nikhil said, “While at home, there is separate washroom for both my uncle and me, here we are forced to share it with five other persons. In addition, there are many problems— the flush does not work and we have to use buckets from the other washroom. This is difficult for my uncle as he is old.”
He added, “If we have to maintain physical distancing how is this better than home? From when we got admitted, no doctor has visited us. We were merely given some medicines for fever. Due to the disease we anyway have less appetite, and here we don’t like the food as we are not familiar with the taste.”
Naveen, a resident of Hanumantha Nagar in Basavanagudi was in shock when BBMP officials knocked on their door to admit his wife, who tested positive and was asymptomatic, to a government-run CCC even though they too had separate rooms and washrooms.
When questioned, the BBMP officials cited that the government has apparently withdrawn the home isolation protocol which was far from the truth. Finally, Naveen had to arrange help and get a doctor from Victoria Hospital to convince the officials.
Sonali* (name changed), a resident of an apartment in Yellanchali, who is coordinating with the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike officials regarding COVID-19 treatment from her apartment association also complained of the same.
“There was an incident where a health official insisted an asymptomatic 40 year-old-patient to go for institutional isolation citing they have a child at home. Even though they had a separate room and washroom, the man agreed to go. But when a 25-year-old woman returned from abroad, they were insisting at that time too without any valid reasons,” Sonali said.
She added, “I had to argue with the official and even talk to the zonal officials to allow her to stay in home isolation.”
She also highlighted the poor management of the CCC at the Sri Sri Ravishankar’s ashram which the government has taken over from. “There are issues with cleanliness and hygiene. But the staff there refuses to take any responsibilities saying it’s the BBMP’s responsibility now to take care of the upkeep.”
When confronted with these incidents, Sarfaraz Khan, Joint Commissioner, BBMP, and part of the taskforce in-charge of CCC, claimed that there can’t be any corruption angle to local level officials forcing admission to government-run CCCs.
He, however, said, “It is the inmates of the CCCs who are responsible for the bad condition in any of the facilities if any, as BBMP has arranged cleaning and housekeeping staff to attend in three separate shifts.”