Covid rule flout fuels concern in Calcutta
A number of people who have tested positive for Covid or are direct contacts of Covid patients are flouting quarantine or isolation rules and some are even stepping out without masks, residents across the city said.
During the first wave of the epidemic last year, the city witnessed the other extreme as neighbours tagged and barricaded homes of Covid patients.
Public health experts said the sheer number of infected people this time has made it difficult for the authorities and others to identify those who are testing positive. With tens of people testing positive in every neighbourhood every day, even residents are at times unaware who among them are suffering from Covid or have come in close contact with patients.
The irresponsible behaviour of some Covid patients and their close contacts, who are stepping out in violation of quarantine rules, at times without masks, is putting the lives of others at risk. Doctors said the coronavirus mutants in circulation in the country are more transmissible than the original virus.
A resident of Kasba said he had seen the father of a man who had tested positive for Covid-19 step out of their home every now and then to buy vegetables and groceries. The father was often spotted without a mask.
A grocer who the man used to visit later came to know from the domestic help of the family that the father had tested positive, too.
Another Kasba resident shared a similar experience. “A neighbour and his entire family have tested positive. Today I saw the man outside his home without a mask. Other neighbours called him up and asked him to stay indoors. We assured him that we will deliver whatever the family needs at their doorstep,” he said.
“This is unfortunate. We should not expect the government to do everything on our behalf. As citizens, we have some responsibilities in containing the pandemic. Some southeast Asian nations have managed the pandemic so well because their citizens have acted very responsibly,” said public health specialist Abhijit Chowdhury, who is also a member of the state government’s Covid task force.
According to rules, a Covid patient with mild symptoms have to stay in isolation for 17 days from the onset of symptoms. His or her close contacts have to stay quarantined for 14 days.
“No person who has tested positive for Covid should step out. Their contacts should undergo a test on day 5 or day 6 from exposure. The current strain of the virus is highly transmissible. There are multiple examples where all other family members tested positive within a week of the first person in the family testing positive,” said Anirban Dalui, a public health specialist.
“If the contacts have any symptoms, they should get tested immediately. Even if they do not have symptoms, it is advisable to get tested on the 5th or 6th day from exposure. The moment someone in the family shows Covid symptoms, the person should isolate himself or herself to reduce the risks of infecting others in the family.”