Hyderabad: It has been a harrowing few weeks for Azhar (name changed) even though he was not a COVID-19 patient.

Azhar’s elder brother, who attended Tableeghi Jamaat congregation in Delhi from March 12-14, was tested positive for coronavirus. On March 22, the 45-year-old man began to feel weak, and four days later, despite not having a dry cough or high fever, he decided to visit Gandhi hospital.

‘Had no cough or high fever, only weakness’

To his surprise, Azhar’s brother was initially turned away by the doctor at Gandhi Hospital. “The doctor who examined my elder brother on March 26 said that he did not have COVID-19 like symptoms because he was not having a dry cough. He was prescribed antibiotics and asked to go home,” said Azhar.

Not satisfied, the 45-year-old man consulted Fever Hospital on the same day, where a doctor advised him to take a COVID-19 test. “He was tested positive and admitted to the Chest Hospital, where he is currently undergoing treatment,” said Azhar.

‘Police did not allow relatives to return home’

Later ten of his family members were traced and admitted to the Gandhi Hospital. But that was when the real ordeal began. “Ten of my family members were admitted to Gandhi Hospital on March 29. Seven of them got their reports on April 5. All tests were negative. They were asked to go home and stay in quarantine by the doctors,” he said.

But as soon as they stepped outside the gate, police told them to get into a bus. “They were told that they will be transported to Mallepally Markaz, which will be treated as a quarantine center. I asked them why they were not allowed to go home, police just refused to reply,” said Azhar.

While Azhar’s mother, his two sisters in law and their four daughters were shifted to a place near Badi masjid in Mallepally, his father, younger brother, and daughter got discharged from Gandhi Hospital on April 12. Their experience in the hospital was not encouraging as well.

‘Nurses don’t respond, COVID-19 test reports get missed, no information’

“It (Gandhi) is a government hospital, and I know we can’t expect world-class treatment. But people need basic facilities like clean bathrooms, functioning fans, and beds without cockroaches. My father is a diabetic. He was the happiest person when he got discharged yesterday,” the son said.

What left Azhar flabbergasted was when the hospital authorities misplaced his niece’s report forcing her to take a retest.

“We have to wait for an eternity to get our test results. If we ask, they don’t give information. Patients are kept in the dark. For instance, patients are not allowed to change clothes. My brother and his daughter stayed in the same dress for days. There is no proper system. it’s mostly chaos,” said Azhar.

With his brother testing negative, Azhar is hoping for a family reunion soon. “My elder brother who is admitted to Chest Hospital was tested negative yesterday. After they get the confirmation, he might be discharged in 2-3 days,” said Azhar.

Amritha Mohan

Amritha Mohan is a reporter at the NewsMeter. Shortly after completing her Master's in Communication at the University of Hyderabad, she began teaching courses on media and culture as a guest lecturer at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong. Amritha has previously interned with news organisations such as Greater Kashmir and Newslaundry. A lover of travel and photography, she spends most of her time planning road trips to the North-East. Nothing makes her happier than a green turf and a team to play football with. She primarily reports on education, tech, human-interesting and critical features.

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