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Coronavirus: Tale of a family struggling to survive after testing positive.

After suffering from the symptoms of the coronavirus for seven days, Rahmat Ali (pseudonym), a senior citizen from Dhaka's Jatrabari area went to a private hospital for testing.

The hospital authorities collected his sample, on April 8, and notified him that his test result was positive. They asked him to visit the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) with the medical report.

When he visited IEDCR, the institute asked him to stay in home quarantine as the symptoms were minor despite his test result being positive.

Rahmat went back home and remained in home quarantine. However, the law enforcers locked down the area and an announcement regarding the existence of a Covid-19 patient was made in the local mosque. Soon after this, the neighbours started mistreating Rahmat's family.

Rahmat's son, Mahmud (pseudonym), said: 'Despite being asked by the IEDCR to stay at home, we faced tremendous pressure from the neighbors and the flat owners to admit my father to the hospital.

'So, we took him to Kuwait Friendship Government Hospital for institutional isolation.'

However, within a few days, the locals started threatening the family and locked the door of their house from outside as to restrict their movement.

'We knew everyone was scared of the disease, but we were helpless too,' the son added.

As the family failed to move or do anything about the threat, some locals finally came to support them. The locals spoke to the landlord and came to an agreement with everyone that the family members can stay if only they undergo testing and the results are negative.

'At that point, we did not even realize that situation would get even worse,' said Mahmud.

On April 10, Rahmat's 61-year-old wife and his two sons came out of the house, covered in masks and gloves, to visit the hospital for testing, as neighbours continued to blame them for spreading coronavirus in the area.

Mahmud said: ' No rickshaw or CNG autorickshaw was available due to the lockdown and my mother was already feeling weak due to her age and fever.

'After walking for at least ten minutes, we managed to hire a CNG autorickshaw but we hid our real destination from the driver in fear of not getting the ride.'

The family first went to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), however, testing was unavailable there as it was a Friday. Later, they went to Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH).

'After reaching DMCH, we felt like dying is easier than getting treatment,' he added.

'We were asked to stand in a line and after sometime a medical officer said no one can enter the room except those with the coronavirus symptoms. We showed our father's Covid-19 test reports, so that they allowed us,' said Mahmud.

Meanwhile, a medical staff declared that no more samples will be collected on that day and everyone was asked to stay there overnight as the samples will be collected early next morning. However, on hearing this the family went back home.

On the following day, April 11, the family arrived at the hospital in due time to find nine more people waiting in the isolation room for the test.

'Two out of the nine people were continuously coughing and another had some respiratory illness while a child slept right beside them without any mask or covering,' said Mahmud.

'I had the feeling that even if I do not have the disease, I might get infected by staying with these people,' he added.

Sample collection started from around 3pm on that day and the family had their turn around 7pm. After 30 minutes, the family was asked to submit their documents once again, which they had already provided earlier.

On April 12, Mahmud went to the hospital to collect the report which was scheduled at 3pm. He waited there till 5pm but the report did not arrive.

'After coming back home, DMCH authorities called us at night and informed us that my mother was Covid-19 positive. They asked to take my mother to the hospital right away,' said Mahmud.

'We had already undergone a lot of harassment from the neighbours and the hospital authorities, and on the same day the landlord called to say we cannot stay in the house if we do not show him the reports,' he added.

Where are the reports?

On April 13, the family collected the report of the mother, however, the medical staff said the reports of the two brothers went missing.

Mahmud said the DMCH authorities told them they cannot find the reports and they will not even recollect the samples.

After failing to collect the reports, Mahmud requested the hospital authorities to provide them with an ambulance but the authorities denied the request too.

'I took my mother in CNG autorickshaw to Kuwait Friendship Government Hospital where she was given a bed in the same isolation room as my father,' he added.

Mahmud's parents are kept in a room with six other people and they are allowed to talk to their family twice a day.

Mahmud said: 'I informed IEDCR about the medical reports being lost from DMCH and the IEDCR advised us to wait at home for the next two days.

'They told us the sample will be collected from home if the situation deteriorates.'

Doctors said they will run two tests on my father and if the results are negative, he can come back home, however, my mother has to stay, he added.

'My father is a freedom fighter and before the lockdown he went to Jamalpur to meet his friend, a freedom fighter too. We think he got infected during his trip,' said Mahmud.

'We will have to leave the house if the samples are not recollected. However, on April 16, IEDCR asked us to wait for another four days as our symptoms are very minor,' he added.

Mahmud said he was suffering from fever and cough while his brother is in a good condition. However, the harassment from the neighbours and the loss of the reports have caused them to suffer more.

DMCH denies allegation

DMC Virology Department Associate Prof Dr Monira Parveen said it is not possible that a Covid-19 test report went missing at their hospital and they have not received any such complaint.

She said: ' We have the facility of testing coronavirus and the testing is far different from the testing of any other virus. Our medical staff carefully collects the sample and brings it to the lab.

'All the test reports are sent to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS). The written reports are then sent to DMCH Director Brig Gen Dr AKM Nasir Uddin. After he signs it, the reports are finally handed over to the family in a closed envelope,' the associate prof added.

She suggested talking to the director over this matter, however, Dhaka Tribune failed to get his comment despite repeated attempts.

The director was called several times on April 15, but he did not receive.
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Publication:Dhaka Tribune
Date:Apr 17, 2020
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