Swadi’s mother, who tested positive, was reportedly asked to home quarantine by a government doctor. The family lives with their 81-year-old grandmother.

Chennai woman gets COVID-19 Daughter speaks out on community spread govt apathyImage for representation only. Picture courtesy: PTI
Coronavirus Coronavirus Thursday, May 14, 2020 - 18:42

A Chennai-based woman's post on how her mother contracted COVID-19, and what has happened since, has gone viral on Twitter. The posts hint at community spread of the novel coronavirus in the city, and how the government healthcare system seems to be treating it with a light hand. 

Swadi Prabakaran’s mother, who has no travel or known contact history, and only went out to get groceries during the lockdown, got tested for the novel coronavirus at a private lab in the city after she developed a high fever. When the test came back positive, the family contacted the government helpline number and Swadi and her mother went to the Kilpauk Medical College (KMC) hospital on May 13. According to the 23-year-old medical student, her mother (50) was instructed to quarantine at home by a doctor at KMC’s COVID-19 outpatient ward, possibly due to a shortage of beds. 

Further, Swadi tweeted that several people who had COVID-19 were waiting to be allotted beds outside the ward, where people who did not have COVID-19 were also moving around. And the doctors downplayed the disease, she hinted. 

“(The doctor) checked her temp which was 99. He said she is a mild case of COVID and asked her to home quarantine. When she told him there are 3 more people in the home and was sure they'd be positive, he said to get them tested only when they show symptoms,” Swadi tweeted. “He also said many of the docs are positive but not tested... Many people are positive but not tested. He was very cool and told my mom not to worry and self isolate at home.” (sic)

“We are a family of four – mother, grandma, my brother and I (and a dog). We were more worried about grandma cuz (sic) as she is an 81-year old diabetic and a heart patient," she said

Rampant community transmission?

“I live in Anna Nagar West, Chennai. Only my mom (sic) goes out twice a week to buy groceries within 500 metre radius. She took utmost care by wearing a mask and avoiding crowded stores. But... she got the symptoms on the night of May 9,” Swadi wrote on Twitter. The 23-year-old's brother too had reportedly developed a fever but recovered within a day. Annanagar West, located close to the Koyambedu market which has reported the biggest cluster in the state, is a COVID-19 hotspot.

"What i understood from the experience was that a) community transmission is rampant in Chennai, b) under-reporting of cases is happening for sure. My family was asked to get tested only when we start showing symptoms. And lastly c) outside of COVID-19 OP...there are positive patients waiting in groups until allotment of beds, and people who are  unaware of this are roaming without proper masks in close proximity to these patients,” Swadi said. 

Public naming-shaming the only route to action?

After her tweet gained traction on social media, Chennai corporation officials visited Swadi's house, explained the situation to the family and sanitised the area. The 23-year-old, her brother and grandmother have also been taken for testing now. When they asked about the delay, the corporation officials alleged that they were yet to receive the test results of Swadi's mother from the private laboratory, and hence had not visited their house for disinfection and testing. 

As on Thursday, Chennai city reported 363 COVID-19 positive cases. With this, the district has 5637 individuals who have tested positive for the virus. 

Meanwhile, Swadi's mother too has now been shifted to a COVID-19 care centre in a private arts college in the city. She will be monitored for the next two-three days and if her condition improves, she will be allowed to continue quarantine at home, Swadi adds.

 

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