A day after two senior citizens from Mumbai tested positive for COVID-19, their residential building in the western suburbs saw a flurry of activity, from meetings with residents held by medical officers to efforts to sanitise the entire premises including the gates, lifts and corridors.
While three families in the building have been asked to remain in home isolation as one of the contacts of the senior citizen couple had visited them, other residents have been advised to maintain basic hygiene and report symptoms immediately.
“We are simply concerned. But the medical officers have assured us there is no reason to panic,” said one elderly resident, adding that measures have been taken to clean the building, including spraying of disinfectant.
Paramedics who visited the building on Thursday said they have explained the basic precautions that need to be taken to the residents. “We have also guided them on the right way to wear masks in case they have a cough and cold,” a paramedic said.
They have reached out to residents of 10 neighbouring buildings too, he said.
The paramedical staff collected details of residents as well as domestic help, drivers and security guards working in the buildings and sensitised them. Residents, however, complained that a few children were turned away from school after the authorities found out that they lived in the building from where two cases have been reported.
In a relief for residents, the three close contacts of the senior citizens — a driver, domestic help and a neighbour — tested negative for the infection on Thursday. “This is a very good development as it shows there is no immediate community spread,” additional municipal commissioner Suresh Kakani said.
Civic officials were earlier mulling a scientific quarantine of the entire building, but as the immediate contacts of the couple have tested negative, no such step will be taken.
According to Mr. Kakani, a relative of the couple had visited them and later travelled to Kolkata. “We are in touch with him and his family, and have advised them accordingly,” he said. The couple have not been out much since their return from Dubai on March 1. “They have mostly been on the building premises,” the civic officer said.
The senior citizens, meanwhile, who are admitted to the isolation facility in Kasturba Hospital, have been responding well to symptomatic treatment. Besides the doctors at the hospital, an honorary infectious disease specialist called in by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation is also monitoring them. “They are on medication and have not required any additional support like oxygen or ventilator. We will send their samples for retesting after two days,” Mr. Kakani said.
Forty suspected COVID-19 patients remained admitted at Kasturba Hospital on Thursday.
Fake messages, address leaks cause stress
A 21-year-old Mumbai resident, who was part of the same Dubai tour group as six COVID-19 patients, said fake messages are being circulated on WhatsApp claiming that all 40 people from the group have been infected. “Firstly, it is extremely worrisome that our names and addresses have been leaked. Secondly, people are making up their own messages saying that all of us have tested positive. It has caused a lot of stress to us,” said the woman, who was part of the six-day tour to Dubai and Abu Dhabi along with a family member.
While six of the group have tested positive, a cab driver who ferried some of them to Pune has also been infected. “Since the fake messages got out, I have received more than 100 calls from relatives and friends asking about it,” she said.
Thane society stops using biometric system
A housing society in Thane (West) has suspended its biometric security system and advised members not to gather in groups after one of the residents was asked to remain in home isolation. A circular by the society said the member had travelled in the cab of the driver who has tested positive for COVID-19 in Pune. The driver had ferried travellers from the Dubai tour group, who tested positive, from Mumbai airport to Pune.