Manohar, 39, works as an electrician in a private firm. He lives with his family in Ramachandrapura of Ward 96 in Benagluru with his old parents, wife and two children who are seven and 11 years old. With the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping India and Bengaluru, his family too developed symptoms such as dry cough, fever and sore throat. The family was tested for COVID-19 by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) on July 20. While Manohar, his wife and his mother tested positive, his father and the children tested negative.
The Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR) has been working with urban communities in various cities of India through the pandemic and the nationwide lockdown to support them with their food and other needs. CFAR has been working with communities in Bengaluru to support both the government and communities in fighting COVID-19. In the case of Manohar’s family, CFAR arranged for an ambulance which took the infected members of the family to a COVID-19 Care Centre. It was found that Manohar had been in touch with his brother-in-law, who was tracked by the CFAR Helpdesk team, tested, and was detected positive.
Manohar and his wife were shifted to CCC Gnana Bharathi Girls Hostel at Majestic, while his mother was admitted into a private hospital, the Cinnacle hospital, located on Mysore road. The private hospital charged a whopping Rs. 1.66 lakh while the treatment for Manohar and his wife at the CCC Hostel was free. Manohar and his wife were at the CCC Hostel for four days and described their experience to be ‘good’. Although the facility could be better-maintained, and conveniences and essentials such as beds and toilets could improve, the food was okay and overall the place was ‘manageable’. On the fifth day they returned home. There were told to be in home quarantine for a few more days.
However, all family members did not go through the same experience as Manohar and his wife. While his father had tested negative in the first test, he later developed severe asphyxiation. However, he was denied admission by many hospitals as ICU beds were not available. Finally, he was admitted to the Cinnacle hospital for treatment where he tested positive for COVID-19. His oxygen saturation was recorded to be at 60 Per cent. He was doing well for four days but his condition deteriorated and he succumbed to his illness. Around the same time, Manohar’s brother-in-law also passed away due to severe breathing problems.
In this period of extreme privation and distress, the family received ration from lorry drivers’ association, private cab drivers’ association and the BBMP. After they were discharged from the hospital, vitamin tablets were given to them by CCC Hostel health workers. Once they returned home, the children faced discrimination as neighbours stopped talking to them even after they tested negative. The owner of the bakery shop in front of their house abused them several times when they passed by or visited the shop to buy household items. Manohar urged health workers to do something about it, asking them to educate people not only on the transmission of the virus, how to protect oneself and the benefits of getting tested at the earliest, but also on why a person who recovers and tests COVID-negative should not be discriminated against.