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VMC tweets names of 122 ‘high risk’ persons as ‘super-spreaders’, faces flak

A few lashed out at the VMC for disrespecting the privacy of those named, while some others criticised the civic body for providing half information.

Written by Aditi Raja | Vadodara | Updated: May 12, 2020 6:46:38 pm
coronavirus testing, coronavirus home isolation, covid 19 quarantine period, covid 19 update, cornavirus news, indian express Following an order from Officer on Special Duty, Vinod Rao, the VMC on May 8 began screening the vendors who have been working despite the lockdown to supply essentials such as milk and dairy products, groceries, etc. (Representational)

The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) on Tuesday uploaded a list of 122 persons on its official Twitter handle, terming them “super-spreaders”, leading to panic among residents. A few lashed out at the VMC for disrespecting the privacy of those named, while some others criticised the civic body for providing half information.

Officials of the VMC confirmed to The Indian Express that the list was of those people who have been advised home quarantine, as they are in the “high risk” category. The list, however, also includes the name of a vendor who tested positive on May 10.

Following an order from Officer on Special Duty, Vinod Rao, the VMC on May 8 began screening the vendors who have been working despite the lockdown to supply essentials such as milk and dairy products, groceries, etc. Until May 11, the VMC completed screening 8,262 “super-spreaders”, including vegetable and fruit vendors and employees of essential and e-commerce delivery services. Of these, 131 people were declared unfit and home quarantined.

This is in accordance with Rao’s decision — vendors who are above the age of 65 years or have comorbidities will not be issued passes and allowed to work further — as part of the precautionary measures during phase two of the administration’s Covid-19 action plan.

Of the 8,262 vendors screened, the VMC tested only 26 persons who had symptoms. Of these, only a 39-year-old male vegetable vendor from Waghodia road tested positive, VMC Medical Health Officer (MHO), Dr Devesh Patel confirmed.

However, the list of 122 persons put on Twitter with a message stating, “List of names of Super Spreaders of the VMC (sic)” caused much anxiety among people, as well as backlash for the “insensitive” post. Citizens tweeted back to the VMC, asking the civic body to explain why it had chosen to put out the names of individuals without clarifying whether they tested positive or not.

“Have you gone nuts by putting this list out VMC? Do you even know what super spreaders are? You have stigmatised this infection further, people will be more scared to voluntarily come for testing and when they do it will be too late. No wonder mortality is high in Vadodara (sic),” a resident wrote. Some others questioned what the list meant for residents. Some also poked fun at the VMC, questioning if they would now have to carry the list and ask the names of the vendors they come across.

Last week, Rao’s order made it mandatory for all vendors in the district to visit their nearest UHCs every three days for regular screenings. Those who fail to comply with the order will be prohibited from working during the pandemic.

MHO Dr Patel said that the list was uploaded by VMC’s IT department and does not reflect the names of those who tested positive. “These are the vendors who have been advised home isolation because they are high risk persons, due to their age or comorbidities. They are not positive cases. We will get it rectified,” he said.

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