Lucknow’s first COVID-19 positive doctor’s kin facing trauma

By Kulsum Mustafa 

Lucknow: As if it was not enough ordeal to find one of their kin testing Corona Virus positive, the relatives of Lucknow’s first COVID-19 positive case find themselves facing the trauma of being hounded with their personal information, including names, age addresses and phone numbers ‘leaked’ from the Chief Medical Officer, Lucknow office, has gone viral. They are receiving hundreds of crank calls, abuses and threats on phone ever since the CMO office confidential note has been posted on Whatsapp and other social media sites March 12 onwards.

Living in three houses in three different localities of the city, each few kilometers apart, these 12, hailing from a joint family who has tested negative, are under surveillance by health authorities as they have been in contact with the Toronto based doctor who had tested positive for the virus on March 12. The doctor, on a family visit, reached her in-law’s house in Gomtinagar, Lucknow, on March 8. She was accompanied by her husband and one and a half-year-old son. Both of them tested negative. While the doctor was immediately hospitalized, the husband was sent to an isolation ward and the child sent back to the in-laws’ house. Soon after, the health authorities prepared the list of the 12 persons she had been in contact with on her arrival. While this included the five persons at her in-law’s house, the other relatives she visited in these three days were at Vikasnagar and Indiranagar. These relatives were tested and found Covid-19 negative. They were advised to stay in quarantine for two weeks inside the house, which they immediately complied with. As a precautionary measure police cops were posted outside their houses and none-including maids etc were allowed to come near the house.

CMO document went viral

But from somewhere the official document with their full details, which included their names, age, address and phone numbers, which the CMO says was data prepared for sample collection for testing was leaked and within minutes it went viral. Before the family could understand what had happened they were flooded with calls by the dozen. These crank calls allege family members were far from civil and a few even went down to being downright communal.

“Shocked as we were with one of our family testing positive, these phone calls, some using abusive language, blaming us for bringing this virus to the city, others asking us to detail the symptoms, presuming that we also had caught the virus were very traumatizing,” said Mrs. S, one of the aunts of the patient. She said this made them so angry and helpless and they could not understand what was their fault.

“We are all educated and responsible people, we have several doctors in the family. We fully understand our social responsibility and will not like this virus to spread, in fact, we immediately put ourselves under self-imposed quarantine,” said Mrs. S, angry at the sick mindset of the people and their illogical inferences.

“The Health Department should have taken more care, they should not have let our personal details and addresses go viral. Whoever leaked this personal information has infringed upon our fundamental Rights, they have made our family so vulnerable and unsafe,” said Dr S, one of the 12 who is under health department surveillance.

Threaten legal action

Speaking to Siasat on the phone, he said that the family is not going to let this go by.“After the health crisis is settled a bit we will take legal action at the totally uncalled for negligence on the part of the state health authorities,” said Dr S angry that while they have cooperated with the authorities fully they have been hounded like criminals by the public. Meanwhile, according to reports, the toll of positive Covid-19 cases in Uttar Pradesh has gone upto 13. Educational institutions have been closed down till March 31st. Public functions are being deferred and people are being advised to shun public places and avoid going out of the houses until very necessary. The fear of contracting the virus can be seen all around. People are buying the essential commodities, sanitizers, face masks and hand wash are already out of stock, online buyers are sent messages that their maybe delay in delivery due to heavy rush. 

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