Covid positive man contacted by none, nowhere to go, wanders for three days
A 43-year-old man who had tested positive for Covid-19 wandered around the streets of Salt Lake for the past three days before finally settling down under the elevated Metro corridor near Duttabad on EM Bypass.
He was too afraid to go home because he shares his tenement in Barasat with his elderly parents.
Nor did he receive any calls from the authorities, the man told The Telegraph on Friday afternoon. Unsure what to do, he had decided to spend the nights in the open.
A state health department official said that someone from the department ought to have called the man and asked whether he had mild or severe symptoms.
Since the 43-year-old former parking attendant has mild symptoms, the caller should have told him about his two options: staying isolated from others at home for 14 days, or shifting to a government-run safe home for the same period.
“I was scared after my report came out positive on Tuesday. I didn’t want to go home as it is quite small and I live with my elderly parents. There’s no possibility of self-isolation at home,” he said.
He had wanted to go to a hospital but didn’t know the procedure, and was afraid it would cost a lot of money. “I earn little. I had heard that medicines for the coronavirus are expensive,” he said.
Duttabad residents who noticed the man sitting in the same spot for hours spoke to him and learnt of his plight before calling fire and emergency services minister Sujit Bose.
The minister, who had himself recovered from Covid-19, asked local councillor Nirmal Dutta to arrange for the man’s transport to a safe house. The patient was then transferred to a safe house in Barasat.
Tapas Roy, chief medical officer for North 24-Parganas, confirmed the health department should have called the man.
“After telling the patient his options, the caller is also expected to ask whether there’s enough space at their home and a separate toilet to stay isolated from the rest of the family. Else, the patient has to be shifted to a safe home (by the state health department),” he said.
The man used to be an attendant at one of the paid parking zones near City Centre but had lost his job during the lockdown. He was now working as a civic labourer engaged in clearing weeds from playgrounds and parks in Salt Lake.
He had been down with fever since September 5, a Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation official who had spoken to him said. The report of his free Covid-19 test, conducted at a Salt Lake hospital, arrived on September 8.
A health department official said that apart from the department, the man should have received a call from the Barasat municipality since he had stated his address at the time of testing. Everyone undergoing a Covid-19 test is asked to furnish address proof.
Sunil Mukherjee, chairperson of Barasat municipality’s board of administrators, said: “It seems this person’s address did not reach us. Otherwise our workers would have gone there and found out that he was neither at home nor in hospital.”
Anyone who is unsure what to do after testing positive for Covid-19 may call the health department helpline, 1800 313 444 222. There’s also a telemedicine helpline, 033 23576001.