Is the story of Shopian couple who tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) a pointer to lack of preparedness across the healthcare sector combined with conflicting guidance and disregard to established norms?
The couple tested positive for the dreaded disease on Saturday, three days after they had been discharged after a fortnight’s quarantine. During the quarantine period, the couple was not tested despite having travel history to Saudi Arabia from where they had arrived after performing Umrah. On top of it, the couple had shared the flight with the Kashmir’s first positive case, a 67-year-old woman from Srinagar who has been since discharged from SKIMS Soura.
Their family said that after performing Umrah, the couple returned in the same plane (Air India 443) as was boarded by the Kashmir’s first COVID-19 patient on March 16, last month.
“Soon after reading news on social media about the Kashmir’s first COVID-19 patient, I called BMO Shopian and informed him that my parents had arrived by the same flight on March 16,” elder son of the couple said. Before reaching home, he said his parents had been screened at Jeddah, Kerala, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Delhi and Srinagar airports.
“The BMO asked me to shift them to PHC Tukroo where my parents and others were kept in quarantine. The women were kept in one room and males in a separate room,” he said, adding, “we urged the health authorities to test them but they declined, saying that it would be done only after symptoms develop.” He said the authorities even declined to ensure proper distancing in the rooms as they were “clogged together”.
Meanwhile, he said, a septuagenarian from Shirmal Shopian developed some prostate-related problem and was shifted to district hospital Pulwama on March 25. “There they took his sample which came out to be positive on April 1 while my parents were discharged from quarantine on March 29.”
“After spending three days at home, my parents were again called and kept in administrative quarantine from April 1,” he said, “After I again pleaded to the health authorities, their samples were finally taken on Friday evening and came out to be positive on Saturday,” he said, adding, “What kind of system is this? Is there no accountability?”
However, the Deputy Commissioner Shopian, Yasin Choudhary, reacting to the claims said there was no protocol disregard in this case.
Taking to micro-blogging site Twitter, Choudhary wrote an appeal to residents of Shopian, saying five positive cases of COVID-19 are confirmed from the district.
“Please don’t fall for misreports of protocol disregard for Beminipora couple. Positive cases can show symptoms even after initial 14 day institutional quarantine period,” he said.