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Staying positive during Covid-19

| Updated on August 07, 2020 Published on August 07, 2020

A citizen is baffled by the dance of bureaucracy that ensued after his father tested positive

* The local leaders called next! Instead of offering help they warned my parents not to venture out for the next 14 days (read: don’t bring corona shame!)

Dear Editor,

I write to you to convey how helpless one feels when one of your own is hit by Covid-19. No, the helplessness is not because of the virus, but because of us, society and the government.

My father had to undergo a simple medical procedure for an eye condition. It was urgent and the doctor said, well, the coronavirus isn’t so novel anymore, so why not get done with the surgery. My elderly parents in Kolkata moved from their house to my sister’s, since her place was closer to the clinic. Before he was admitted, he had to get a Covid-19 test done.

I thought this would be a mere formality, for the 75-year-old had not stepped out of his house from March, save for two hospital visits. He had no symptoms either. In fact, he was regular with his pranayama and had been taking ayurvedic immunity boosters for 15 years.

But, alas, he tested positive. And then began the dance of the bureaucracy.

First, the pathology department of the private clinic called to give the news. Then its Covid-19 department called to say that if he showed symptoms, there were “packages” he could opt for. I must say it was a good sales pitch.

A couple of hours later, my father received a call from the municipality (declared on his Aadhaar card). The caller couldn’t conceal his joy when he heard that my father had tested positive while he was visiting his daughter in another municipal area. He hung up immediately, after gleefully announcing that it was not his area, and thus not his tally.

The next caller was a reluctant one, from my sister’s municipal area. He wondered why an elderly couple were living with their daughter when they had a house of their own. He did, however, ask how the old man was doing, and thanked god that he wasn’t showing any symptoms, before, once again, expressing his disapproval for the afore mentioned offence (read: Why are you increasing my area’s Covid-19 tally when you don’t live here?).

Then someone from the state’s coronavirus helpline rang my father. Their response was a little more humane. They informed him about the basic dos and don’ts but gave no clarity on how the rest of the family was to be tested.

The local leaders called next! Instead of offering help they warned my parents not to venture out for the next 14 days. They, too, wondered aloud how a father could introduce his daughter’s family to such a calamity (read: don’t bring corona shame!). The local leaders called next! Instead of offering help they warned my parents not to venture out for the next 14 days. They, too, wondered aloud how a father could introduce his daughter’s family to such a calamity (read: don’t bring corona shame!).

Dear Editor, five phone calls and a 14-day home quarantine later, none is wiser on how to get the rest of the five-member family tested.

In the meantime, while my father was shifted to a single room with an attached bath within the house, isolated from the rest of the family, my sister and I began calling up doctors asking for a prescription to get the family tested. In West Bengal, you need a prescription to get the tests done.

We were expecting that those who came in direct contact with him would be automatically tested by the administration. But no one came and no one gave us the said prescription. We were later told by the government helpline that they did not test the direct contacts of asymptomatic patients unless and until they developed symptoms.

But what if someone suddenly showed symptoms and, in a day or two, took a turn for the worse? What if, even though my father was asymptomatic, the others who came in contact with him reacted differently? And why in a free world can’t we get tested, paying our own money, for our own peace of mind? Haven’t experts been saying that the only way to defeat the virus is by aggressive testing?

I spent sleepless nights wondering what I would do if my mother, a 69-year-old patient of diabetes and hypertension, suddenly developed complications. Thankfully, no one else developed any symptoms and my father tested negative about 17 days later.

But the ordeal has left me scarred and angry. Are we really in the 21st century?

Yours in rage,

A negative citizen

Yours Sincerely is a weekly record of grudges and grumblings from an anonymous reader

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Published on August 07, 2020
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