MUMBAI: If the steady stream of visitors, especially in swanky cars, to the BMC-run Kasturba Hospital near Saat Rasta on Wednesday was an indicator, Mumbaikars seem to be in panic mode. A woman who walked into the Kasturba complex seeking direction to the Covid-19 OPD, said she had had a cough for four days. Although she hadn’t visited any foreign country or met people who had travelled abroad, she said, “I just want to be sure this cough is not the coronavirus.” Two sisters who had returned from Dubai on March 3 were among those who wanted to be sure they weren’t infected.
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At the end of Wednesday, the hospital had taken 10 of these OPD visitors into the quarantine facility and planned to test them on Thursday. The visitors included office-goers who wanted a certificate stating they were not infected and could travel abroad or rejoin office. “My office wants to send me to Kazakhstan, but I need a certificate saying I don’t have the virus. But Kasturba doctors said I don’t need such a certificate,” a man said.
The panic is also apparent in calls received by BMC’s disaster control room. Dr Santosh Narayankar, 34, a post-graduate doctor in preventive social medicine attached to one of the civic hospitals, has been attending to calls from anxious Mumbaikars for five days. Some callers who have a travel history ask questions such as “People around us are avoiding us, what should we do?”
From March 6, the BMC decided to station a doctor within the disaster control room to attend to queries Mumbaikars may have. Several doctors from civic hospitals are stationed at the control room on a shift basis. Between March 6 and 11, 146 calls were received; 37 callers asked general information such as symptoms of the virus, the testing locations and preventive measures, while 37 others called in stating they have cold and cough and if they should take a test. On an average per day, 30 calls are being received, most from those who have a travel history or are planning to travel.
Narayankar recounts how one caller said since he has returned from an international destination, his office wants him to submit a ‘fitness certificate’ before he resumes work. But he is unable to produce it as his family doctor has said there is a 14-day incubation period, only after which he would be able to check him.-Times Of India