Four people who have tested positive for the coronavirus in Panchkula had traveled to the city all the way from Mumbai in a bid to get tested.
A 30-year-old man, his wife and their two sons aged 8 and 6 years, boarded the Paschim Express on June 4 and reached Kalka railway station the next day.
The man, a distributor in a telecom company, had left Panchkula years ago to work in Mumbai, but his parents had stayed behind. The family upon arrival decided not to head home to their parents but stay at a rest house in Maddhavala for at least 14 days. They were tested on June 6 and their reports came back positive on Tuesday.
“We knew the situation was dire in Mumbai. We went to a nearby dispensary in Bandra East which refused to test us but screened us and gave us a medical certificate as we were asymptomatic. That is how we boarded the train to Panchkula,” said the man, who has been shifted to a Covid care facility in the city.
Lack of money due to no earnings in the past two months, no strings to pull and pending rent forced them to make this move, said the family. “I used to earn Rs. 12,000 per month with an added incentive of less than Rs. 3,000. I do not have any contacts to call and with the situation worsening in the city, we decided to come to our parents,” he added.
Health dept buckles under influx
This influx of outstation patients into the district has caused an added burden on the Panchkula health department. With no medical colleges and a team of almost a 100 doctors including medical officers, senior doctors and consultants spread throughout the district, Panchkula Civil Hospital has been bearing the brunt of the situation.
At least three more such persons, two of whom belonged to Delhi and one to Gurugram, had reached Panchkula to get themselves tested. Their reports came back positive last week. While the first two, hailing from Delhi, had given false Panchkula addresses, the 62-year-old Gurgaon resident had no local relatives and only reached the city for sampling and treatment.
A senior citizen’s plight
Talking to the Indian Express, the senior citizen recalled the trouble he went through to get himself tested and admitted. “I had suddenly developed severe breathing issues and pneumonia-like symptoms last week. My son had taken me to a nearby nursing home in Gurgaon. The doctor there had taken my ECG and even said I have a lung infection, but did not refer me for any tests. He gave me a few medicines and sent me home. The following day when my condition worsened, we decided to come to Panchkula as we knew somebody working at a private hospital there.”
After ECGs were conducted here by a private hospital, they took his samples. He tested positive a day later. “I decided to get treated at the civil hospital since we did not have Rs. 1 lakh per day to spend, as was asked by the private hospital,” he added.
His condition has since improved, he says, adding that he is hopeful he will soon get to leave for home. His son, meanwhile, who went back to Gurgaon, has not yet been tested. “I got a call from health authorities asking me about my condition, which is stable. They refused to test me. I have quarantined myself at home, away from my family and my son,” he said.
Even though the district lacks state-level medical colleges unlike its neighbour Chandigarh and the number of doctors that come with it, the district has been managing fine till now. The health authorities have already over taken infrastructures of other local hospitals and dental colleges.
‘Inflow will affect numbers’
But the inflow of patients not belonging to the district will affect its numbers say medical officials. The number of Covid patients which stopped at 26, has increased to 41, excluding the cases hailing from Mumbai, Gurgaon and Delhi.
“As cases from other areas and hotspots reach our district, they are bound to spread it here even if we isolate them as soon as they enter. With hospitals in hotspots running out of beds, people have been left with no choice but to reach districts that are doing better,” said CMO Dr Jasjeet Kaur.
The health department — since Unlock 1.0 was initiated — has been urging the people of the district to report any person coming in via any mode of transport. A dispensary of the district has also been converted into a testing centre where all travel cases will be sampled in morning and evening batches.
For the family that came from Mumbai, senior officials of health department have insisted that the story is a “concocted one”, as their is no way a family coming all the way from Mumbai decided to not go home. “We are sure they knew they were Covid positive. They must not have found a bed there and thus came here,” a senior official said.
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