AFTER A COVID-19 case was identified there, Kachi Colony, a slum in Dhanas which houses more than 8,000 people in 1,600 shanties, has been cordoned off. However, universal containment practices are not easily implemented in the area, where families with 6-10 members are confined to a 10 sq. ft shanty. “It is suffocating to stay inside. Plus we don’t even get piped water in our houses, we have to go out to access basic resources,” said Ajay Kumar, a daily wage labourer residing in the colony.
“This place is impossible to quarantine. Since the lockdown began, we have been trying to keep people inside their houses but even police are unable to handle them. Now with a case identified, its becoming even more chaotic because people are panicking,” said Nazma Khan, a social activist who has been working in the colony for the past 10 years. Khan added that healthcare workers visiting the area for screening and quarantining are continuously blocked by residents who do not allow them to do their work.
The colony houses many contractual sanitation staff employed at PGIMER as well as GMCH 32. These staff members have been regularly commuting to hospitals and dealing with suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases. “The rest of the residents are daily wage labourers who are now out of work and anxious for their livelihoods,” said Khan.
10 houses quarantined
The patient, a 50-year-old sanitation attendant working at the communicable diseases ward at PGIMER, was tested for COVID-19 on Friday. Though he is asymptomatic, he tested positive the same evening and was picked up from his house. Since he was employed in the CD ward where suspected patients are kept and not the dedicated ward in PGIMER’s isolation unit, he was not quarantined at the hospital and had been going back home every day.
The patient was hence in close contact with his seven-member family and his neighbours. At least ten houses in Kachi Colony and a few more in other areas of Dhanas have been quarantined as of now. Fifteen community contacts and eleven workplace contacts have also been quarantined. The seven members of his family, including his wife, his two sons, daughter, daughter-in law and his one-year-old granddaughter have been sampled for the disease and isolated at PGIMER. “We are all asymptomatic and have been tested for the disease,” said the patient’s 22-year-old daughter, who is admitted at PGIMER for testing.
Screening process arduous
“ Screening is proving to be difficult as it is hard to keep track of how many contacts there are. It’s like a chain, every minute we get a new lead and we are off tracking. Plus, these houses are not properly mapped, so residents don’t even know their own house numbers, let alone others,” said a senior member of the civic body.
Even before the case was identified, local auxiliary nurse midwives\ (ANMs) conducting door-to-door screening claimed it was impossible to properly screen the colony. “Most of them are always out. When the civic body comes to deliver food once a day, its like a massacre here, you just can’t get through. There are no sanitary practices or social distancing. It’s just impossible. Plus, people hide their symptoms because they fear getting quarantined,” said Amandeep, an ANM who recently screened the area. Workers involved in door-to-door screening also fear exposure since they are not given proper PPE kits.
30 residents with flu like symptoms per day
At the health and wellness centre for Dhanas village, which is right next to the colony, at least 30 patients with flu like symptoms visit the OPD every day. “Of these, at least 10 are from Kacchi Colony, many others are screened by our ANMs. We refer them to GMSH 16 if they have severe symptoms, but most of them are hard to convince,” said a healthcare worker employed at the dispensary. Under ICMR guidelines for hotspots, all patients with flu like symptoms should be tested.
75 contacts of patient from Sector 30 identified
At least 75 contacts have been traced to the 52-year-old woman from Sector 30 B who tested positive for coronavirus Friday evening at GMSH 16. Six household contacts, five family contacts and 64 community contacts have been traced to the patient. All household contacts have been sampled and so have three family contacts. Two other family contacts are currently being monitored by the administration.
Of the 64 family contacts, most are residents of Sector 30 B from eight neighbouring households that have been identified and quarantined. Furthermore, the woman’s son-in-law’s family which lives in Maloya has also been quarantined, Two local chemist shops in the area, a grocery store and a verka booth in the patient’s neighbourhood have also been sealed since the woman had visited all these before she was admitted to GMSH 16.
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