‘Got Tested for COVID-19 Twice, Did Not Receive Reports’
21 June 2021
The ‘Inside Districts’ series launched in April 2020 is a one-of-its-kind attempt to capture the experiences of district and Block-level officials, panchayat functionaries, beneficiaries, and frontline workers, on their challenges and best practices.
As the second wave hits India in 2021, and given the unprecedented situation, we will also be capturing the experiences of staff from the 5 states in which we have a permanent presence. These are Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan. We will be publishing insights from NGO efforts as well.
This interview was conducted with Uday Shankar who is a Senior PAISA Associate at the Accountability Initiative, Centre for Policy Research. He lives in the Aurangabad district of Bihar.
Q: Have you been vaccinated in the 18+ category? If yes, when, where, and what was the procedure like?
Uday: No, I have not been able to find a slot yet. As of now, vaccines are not available in the district in proportion to the population and, thus, it is not possible to provide vaccines to everyone immediately.
Q: Have you been told of arrangements made by the local administration for people who are very sick?
Uday: So far, no information has been given to me or my family by the local administration about the arrangements made by the government for people who are very sick. However, through the local newspaper or news channel, we do get to know about the arrangements made by the government.
Q: If there was a sick member in your family, what kind of healthcare arrangements were provided to you by the government?
Uday: Last month, my mother and I got sick. We both went to the district hospital for COVID-19 testing. The hospital had a very poor system, no social distancing was ensured among the people who had come to get the test done. We got our tests done.
After two days, the soft copy of my mother’s report was sent across via text message, but mine was not. I went to the hospital again to give my sample for a second time, but I didn’t receive the report of the second test either.
Afterwards, I went to a doctor since I was ill, but he refused to see me or treat me without a COVID-19 report. I was stuck! I didn’t know where to go and seek treatment. At that time, my temperature was around 102-103 degrees Fahrenheit. An MLC (Member of Legislative Council) had to talk to the doctor for me, and he agreed to see me then.
Q: Do you know of instances where COVID-19 patients were able to access healthcare or oxygen cylinders? How did they do this in your village?
Uday: I don’t know of anybody who was COVID-19 positive and got all the required facilities in a government hospital. One of my neighbours was COVID-19 positive and his oxygen level dropped to less than 70. He was not able to get admitted in the district hospital because beds or oxygen support were not available. The district hospital referred him to Patna.
Instead of going to Patna, he got himself admitted in a private hospital where he had to purchase oxygen cylinders in the black market for Rs. 30,000-35,000 per cylinder. He paid a hefty amount to the private hospital for his treatment. Now he is healthy and back home.
Q: How are cases being discovered? What steps are frontline workers and the government administration taking once cases are identified?
Uday: Frontline workers have not come to my locality yet. However, I have heard that they are going door-to-door to track COVID-19 patients. The people who are coming to the village from outside are also being tested.
Q: Are Anganwadi centres functional in your village? What services are they providing?
Uday: Anganwadi centres are functioning in my village. They are providing all services except conducting pre-primary classes for children.