BBMP seals the doors of COVID-19 patient and neighbour, sparks outrage on social media.

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) came under severe criticism after its officials sealed an apartment door with metal sheets after a domestic help working at the flat was tested COVID-19 positive. BBMP came under a spot Thursday after it had to remove the temporary sealing at an apartment complex in the city following outrage on social media.

The incident, which took place at Ranka Heights, an apartment complex in Domlur which is located in the eastern part of Bengaluru, emerged when another resident shared the pictures of the sealed apartment on Twitter, according to a report in Indian Express.

Sangameswaran added that the door sealing would also hinder the emergency response team set up within the apartment to ensure groceries and supply of essentials to the families.

“They are bulk ordering to minimise delivery contact, this makes it impossible to pass on big packages of essentials,” said Satish Sangameswaran. After the tweet drew, dissension to the BBMP online, civic officials removed the metal sheet sealing.

BBMP Commissioner N Manjunatha Prasad said the civic body was committed to addressing issues that might result in stigma linked to the ongoing pandemic.

“We are committed to addressing any issues that result in stigma. Apologies for the over-enthusiasm of the local staff,” he wrote on Twitter.

“We are committed to treating all persons with dignity. The purpose of containment is to protect the infected and to ensure uninfected are safe,” he added.

BBMP official Manoj Kumar Meena has ordered an inquiry into the incident and issued notices to the contractor and officials involved in the sealing.

“Closing the door of an apartment is never our way of containment. Access to the apartment is restricted and others in the same place of residence are asked to be under strict home quarantine. The Joint Commissioner will serve a notice to the concerned people behind this at the earliest,” the report quoted Manoj Kumar Meena, BBMP East Zone co-ordinator, as saying.

Speaking to indianexpress.com, Purna Bhasin, whose apartment on the fifth floor was sealed, termed the civic body’s measure “totally ridiculous.”

“After our domestic help developed COVID-19 symptoms on July 15, her samples were taken. She tested positive for COVID-19 on July 18. However, we have not stepped out of our apartment since then, strictly following all guidelines. Such action by the BBMP was totally uncalled for,” the report quoted Purna Bhasin as saying.

A similar case to this took place in Chennai. In June, The Greater Chennai Corporation sealed the entrance of the house of Raghunath Vijayaraghavan, a resident of Venus Colony in Alwarpet, tested positive for COVID-19. Soon, the civic workers shut the entrance to his flat in a posh apartment complex with tin sheets, leaving a small opening. Mr Vijayaraghavan said that although he had no symptoms, he and his family remained inside the house. 

He further said the metal sheets nailed to his front door promoted stigma about COVID-19 positive people and could prove to be dangerous in case of a fire. Even in case of a medical emergency, considerable time would be lost in removing the sheets before moving the patient to the hospital.

This same method was detected in China, which was implemented in the name of containing the spread. People in China were being sealed inside their own homes as part of desperate steps to try to contain the spread of coronavirus.

In one shocking video, a metal bar appears to have been welded across a resident’s front door with a gap wide enough that food can be handed to residents, but too small for them to leave.

Image Credits: Satish Sangeshwaram

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