On April 1, a mob screaming ‘maaro-maaro (hit them)’ chased Dr Trupti Katdare and Dr Zakiya Sayyed out from Indore’s Tatpatti Bhakal neighbourhood, as they conducted contact tracing exercise in the Covid-19 hotbed. Nine months later, Dr Katdare’s phone is filled with messages from residents of the locality seeking advice. What’s more, while Indore with 53,910 cases accounts for 22 per cent of the state’s Covid-19 tally, the neighbourhood has not reported any positive case in the past seven months.
In the early days of the pandemic, one Abdul Rafeeq, 69, died a day after testing positive, and his funeral was attended by many in the neighbourhood. Dr Katdare and Dr Sayyed were appointed to carry out contact tracing, and they put 70 high-risk ones in quarantine, even as another 138 tested positive the next two days.
Looking back on the incident, Mohammad Sajid, a resident of Tatpatti Bhakal, who tested positive with six other family members and lost his brother-in-law to Covid-19 in March, says it was a result of a misunderstanding. “People feared that Muslims were being detained and put in quarantine centres unnecessarily. Besides, then no one understood what terms such as quarantine,” he says.
Indore Collector Manish Singh soon initiated meetings with residents. “We received support from all. They were in touch with me on WhatsApp,” says Singh.
A fortnight later, when the 70 people who were in quarantine returned to their homes and narrated their experiences, attitudes began to change. “The people gradually began to respond… Later, some of them gifted us plants,” says Dr Katdare.
Tatpatti Bhakal reported its last case in May, and since then Dr Katdare has moved to work with a fever clinic in Shipra, while Dr Sayyed is appointed at a Public Health Centre in Kamped.
“There isn’t a need for lockdown in the neighbourhood anymore. Most of the people have developed immunity against Covid-19,” says Collector Singh.