About 81 of over 100 asymptomatic COVID-19 positive patients from the red zone of Nagarwada-Saiyedpura in Vadodara’s old city area have opted to shift from the GMERS hospital in Gotri to a COVID-19 care facility at Ebrahim Bawany Industrial Training Centre on Ajwa road, established and run by the Islamic Study Centre Trust.
The patients shifted to the hostel building of the institution, a day after Officer on Special Duty Vinod Rao visited the premises along with the Municipal Commissioner Nalin Upadhyay and police officials.
For most of these patients, the facility has brought back a sense of “security” amid the paranoia surrounding the pandemic which has affected many in the city.
A 29-year-old resident of Nagarwada who tested positive on April 10 following a mass sampling exercise conducted by the administration in the area that has been marked red zone, said, “I had no symptoms but they said I would have to come to Gotri for admission. I complied. I didn’t feel like a serious case of COVID-19 anyway because no one was even coming to check me for the three days that I was there. It is better here as we are being given food and medicines on time with focussed attention from doctors.”
A team of doctors from the Baroda Muslim Doctors’ Association has been helping in treatment of the patients at Ajwa. The police department has deployed staff at the gate to ensure that no outsider is allowed to enter.
The group of patients says that they were a bit disturbed after local reports in the city blamed the patients for “misbehaving” with the staff members and “purposely spitting out of their windows”. The administration has denied any such incident.
Dr Minoo Patel, honorary advisor of the hospital, said, “The incident was blown out of proportion. There was a sudden rush of asymptomatic people one day last week and they had not been given water and food. The need was to organise meals and water for them. There was no misbehaviour as reported.”
A patient said, “We don’t know if someone spat out of the window or not. It was a nine-floor building that is turned into a COVID-19 treatment facility and it is very likely that someone with less civic sense would have done it. We cannot deny. But to say that the patients from the community were spitting purposely is hurtful.”
“Here, doctors come and check on each one of us everyday. They ask us how we are feeling and keep us in good spirits. We are very thankful to the administration that they accepted this suggestion from the community leaders and started this facility for us. It takes the burden off the main facility where serious patients need attention and also keeps everyone happy,” another patient said.
Community leader Zuber Goplani, who approached OSD Rao offering the hostel facility for asymptomatic patients, said that the willingness of the administration to accept their suggestions has helped. “There is a sense of fear among the people in the community. They don’t understand why so many of them don’t have symptoms at all and are still being called positive. So when we approached the administration with our suggestion that at such a time, we could help take care of the asymptomatic cases and ease the pressure of the hospitals, they agreed. It has not only assured the community about the work being done by the administration but also about the need to cooperate.”
Rao told this newspaper, “We left it to the patients to decide. There are some patients who have chosen to stay back in GMERS from the community too because they find it more assuring to be at the hospital. Similarly, patients from other communities have also come to ITI. In any case, if anyone needs critical care or treatment for symptoms, they will have to be in the hospital. For asymptomatic patients, we made it clear that we are not forcing them to leave GMERS but they can do so at their own will. About 81 of them decided to go.”
Rao, who has denied the reports of alleged misbehaviour by the patients, said, “Even when I decided that it would be a good plan to accept the invitation of the Ajwa ITI center, a group of residential colonies wrote to me asking for this facility to be avoided as they feared that they would be exposed to infection if these people were moved here. But I was firm and I told the residents that their safety will be taken care of as the institution is at a safe distance from the colonies. We cannot allow such notions to bulldoze disaster management efforts at this point. This is the time for communities to come together in harmony and fight together.”
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