Infected people do not receive emotional support
Kolkata: Caregivers, especially family members of Covid-19 patients who are under home isolation, are facing harassment and misbehaviour from their neighbours and other members of their residential complexes.
Fear and stigma have led to such misbehaviour with caregivers in localities in Kolkata.
Rano Bose, a resident of Jadavpur, south Kolkata, who was looking after her Covid positive husband, informed The Observer: “Fortunately, I wasn’t positive. Therefore, I had to go out to get essential items. But whenever I used to step out, some of my neighbours used to misbehave with me. They almost made us an outcast.”
People who are infected with the virus are also often at the receiving end. They do not get hospital beds, oxygen and medical equipment when those are needed most. They do not even get the mental and emotional support required to fight Covid-19.
Ujjal Banerjee, who recently recovered from Covid-19, said: “It broke us down when we saw other residents, with whom we had a good rapport earlier, did not come out of their apartments in fear of the infection spreading. We took precautions. Why would we want to spread the infection?”
In most parts of the city, whenever someone turns positive, municipal authorities just call to check on them. Unlike last year, they have not been bringing them food and other essential stuff, forcing Covid-negative family members to step out, earning their neighbours’ ire.
Manju Ghosh, whose father was Covid-positive, said: “I asked for help from a rickshaw- puller in my neighbourhood to bring me something from the market, so that I did not have to go out. But my neighbours threatened to throw him out of work.”
Such harassment has led many people to call the police, but their pleas for help are ignored. While some have been advised to visit police stations to file written complaints, others have been asked to stay home.
The officer-in-charge of the Survey Park police station, B. Roy Chowdhury, said: “We don’t look after such issues. If a case arises in any locality, we simply send them to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation.”
Authorities allegedly pass the buck.
An official from the Covid control room of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation said: “If any home isolated patient and her/his caregiver is facing harassment, then it’s a judicial matter and the police should take action.”
Many members of residential complexes are panic-stricken if someone from the complex tests positive. Some residential associations have set up “Covid task forces” consisting of doctors and other residents. They have been training security staff. As soon as a resident tests positive, the residents’ welfare association advises him/her to self-isolate. If the condition of a patient becomes serious, they try to arrange beds and oxygen.
Dr D Kanor, one of the chief members of the Ambuja Housing Society, shared: “People have become aware of the situation. But still if anyone gets infected on a particular floor, the entire building panics and starts enquiring about what precautions to take. There are some persons who still behave in a very irresponsible manner by hiding the news of the infection. This can be very dangerous for other members of the society.”
Many housing complexes claim they have set up Covid panels to help the family members of the affected but the caregivers often do not comply with the norms.