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Neighbours of Delhi woman who died leaving 31 infected

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A view of the lane where Ajiman Bibi's family lives in Jahangirpuri, New Delhi. | Photo: Manisha Mondal/ThePrint
A view of the lane where Ajiman Bibi’s family lives in Jahangirpuri, New Delhi. | Photo: Manisha Mondal/ThePrint


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New Delhi: In the ‘C’ Block of Jahangirpuri in the national capital, a 55-year-old woman tested positive for Covid-19 on 9 April. This result came four days after her death. By then, at least 26 of Ajiman Bibi’s relatives who live in the same neighbourhood, and five more reported persons had caught the infection.

ThePrint spoke to her neighbours in the area, which has now been declared a containment zone, and most of them said that no one had a clue that Bibi had Covid-19.

“No one knew she had coronavirus, it was only learnt after she died and the test results came in. If people knew, they wouldn’t have interacted with her,” her family’s neighbour Sheikh Habibullah told ThePrint. “She had countless health issues – diabetes, tuberculosis, thyroid problems, and obesity. I have grown up watching her ill.”

Bibi breathed her last at the Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) hospital on 5 April – before which she spent days hopping from one hospital to another for treatment.

“She started experiencing extreme breathlessness late March so her family took her to Jagjivan Ram hospital. After that, she went to Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital. Then she went to a TB camp of some other hospital to get herself checked, and finally she was taken to RML,” Habibullah said.

Her relatives and neighbours suspect that it was during one of these hospital visits that she contracted the infection.

“The family doesn’t have the money or status to even roam around Delhi properly, so there is no chance that they interacted with someone who flew in from outside,” said Sirajul Khan, another neighbour of her family. “She was already a heart and lung patient, which made matters worse.”

Bibi lived in her home with 14 other family members: her husband, five sons, three daughter in-laws and five grand-children.

A view of the home of Ajiman Bibi's family. | Photo: Manisha Mondal/ThePrint
A view of the home of Ajiman Bibi’s family. | Photo: Manisha Mondal/ThePrint

After she passed away, relatives visited the family to extend condolences. Some also went to her burial in a nearby graveyard.

“We didn’t go because of the lockdown, but close friends and family will of course go. Back then, no one had any idea that she had coronavirus, so it’s natural for people to go,” said Salma Khatoon, one of the in-laws of the family, who also lives in the same area.

Speaking to ThePrint, north Delhi district magistrate Deepak Shinde told ThePrint that all 31 infected people have been sent to a quarantine facility in Narela. “There are many children in the group too,” said Shinde.


Also read: Indian firms begin developing remdesivir for Covid-19 research, hope to land licensing deal


The containment zone

Now, the ‘C’ Block in Jahangirpuri has been declared as one of the 87 containment zones in the national capital. Congested roads amid small houses, shanties and shops with lanes seamlessly merging into each other mark this block.

While entry into the lane of the deceased’s house has been cut off, the homes in the neighbourhood haven’t been put under isolation yet.

Residents in sealed lanes adjacent to Ajiman Bibi's family home peeking from the barricades. | Photo: Manisha Mondal/ThePrint
Residents in sealed lanes adjacent to Ajiman Bibi’s family home peeking from the barricades. | Photo: Manisha Mondal/ThePrint

The spread of the infection to 31 people of the area prompted Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to appeal to people to follow the lockdown restrictions strictly. “They had been visiting each other even when the area was declared a containment zone,” Kejriwal said in a press briefing last week.

However, while Block ‘B’ of Jahangirpuri was one of the first 22 containment zones in Delhi announced on 8 April, Block ‘C’ was also added to the list later.

After the incident hit the headlines, all the lanes of Jahangirpuri C-block opening into the main road have been sealed – a move that has left many in the region unhappy.


Also read: Mumbai’s high Covid count due to aggressive testing but 81% cases asymptomatic: BMC chief


‘Very difficult’

The residents of the lanes peeking out of barricades said their “life has become unbearable” ever since the area was cordoned off.

“We can’t go out to buy ration, we can’t go out to get water. No one comes inside for sanitation either. It’s become very difficult,” said Divyanshu Kumar, a resident of a lane adjacent to the one where the woman’s family lives.

“It’s good they cordoned off the area as a precaution. But corona (Covid-19) isn’t our only worry, feeding ourselves is also important,” said Zeenat Alam, another resident.

In Block ‘G’ of Jahangirpuri, which is another containment zone just a couple of hundred meters away from the woman’s family home, officials from the district administration have been announcing the importance of staying indoors.

Offiical Sanjay Kumar making an announcement in Jahangirpuri, New Delhi. | Photo: Manisha Mondal/ThePrint
Offiical Sanjay Kumar making an announcement in Jahangirpuri, New Delhi. | Photo: Manisha Mondal/ThePrint

Sanjay Kumar, an official assigned duty in the area, said it is a struggle for him to get people to stay indoors here.

“Homes here are also very small, so people tend to step out for fresh air. Plus, food and milk are also important needs. But we try our best to make sure people at least maintain social distancing while stepping out,” he said.


Also read: India’s Covid-19 R0 down to 1.36 now, 25,000 cases by April-end at this rate: IMS scientist


 

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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’

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doctor with a stethoscope
A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay


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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”


Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot


‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.


Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


 

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