A 36-YEAR-OLD staff nurse at Panchkula Civil Hospital, who was kept in quarantine soon after she had come in contact with the first positive COVID-19 case of the district 11 days ago, tested positive on Tuesday morning.
With this, the total number of infected persons has risen to two in Panchkula.
It was on the evening of March 20 that a 40-year-old became the first person to test positive in Haryana’s Panchkula district. A group of six staff nurses and a class IV employee were told to go into self-quarantine a day later, after it was found they had come in direct contact with the first positive person, especially her mobile phone.
Five of the staff nurses and a class IV employee were put in isolation by the hospital and tested. But all of them tested negative. The nurse, who has now tested positive, told The Indian Express that she was not among the six people put in isolation and was instead asked to stay at home. She was also not tested initially despite repeated requests, she said.
While the administration claims that the staff nurse, who tested positive on Tuesday, was brought to the hospital on Sunday after her condition deteriorated, the patient herself claims she had no symptoms and walked into the hospital on March 27 to request for a test.
“I had requested them to test me on multiple occasions and was told to wait till symptoms develop. It was on the seventh day of self-quarantine, I was scared for the well-being of my children and my old in-laws, and lied to them over the phone saying I had a slight fever. It was raining that day and so I put on my rain coat, mask and gloves and came to the hospital for tests. My blood sample was taken on Friday itself,” she said.
A doctor privy to the case told The Indian Express on condition of anonymity, “Her samples were sent Friday itself around 12 noon and generally the test results are supposed to come in within 12 hours.” The doctor said that an ambulance was also sent to the nurse’s house on Sunday.
The nurse said, “But I kept waiting for the results that did not come in even on Monday morning. I was then told the sample had gotten lost and my tests were done again. While only a throat swab was taken on Friday, nasal as well as throat swabs were only taken on Monday.”
She continued, “After the ambulance reached the house, my mother-in-law, 75, went into a frenzy. We were not told what was happening. I was worried here and they were worried there not knowing what is to come. Only I know how I consoled my children for these four days.”
After the test reports came positive, her mother-in-law (75), father-in-law (80), two sons aged 11 and 17 each and the landlord couple (80 plus) were picked up by the health department for testing. The husband, in the Indian Army, has not been in the city since the lockdown began.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Jasjeet Kaur confirmed the case has tested positive and the family has been alerted. “We have time and again insisted that mobile phones can easily act as the biggest fomites that may carry an infection forward. In the present case, the point of contact that has aided in the spread has been the mobile phone of the first positive case. Though she had the personal protective gear on, she handled that phone (of first case) multiple times and she probably forgot to handle it safely. I have asked for a chronology of the events. She has kept herself in strict quarantine. She claims she was in a room separated from her whole family and we are sure she took all possible measures of quarantine as she is a trained medical professional and must have been especially cautious. We will still have to test her contacts,” Kaur told The Indian Express.
According to the nurse, she had come in contact with the first patient’s phone only after she was told by the administration that the first case has tested negative. “It was on the evening of March 20 when the case had been requesting me to let her talk to her husband and inform him that she was at the hospital. Though I was refusing to do so, after I heard that her report has come in negative, I decided to talk to him. I should have put the phone on speaker but I did not as I thought she wasn’t positive. It was only late in the night that suddenly the news of her testing positive came. The administration should have been more responsible with such crucial news.”
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