News Brief

Mamata Banerjee Slams ‘Irresponsible Behaviour’ Of Family Of Coronavirus-Infected Teenager, Family Denies Wrongdoing

Jaideep Mazumdar

Mar 19, 2020, 04:54 PM | Updated 05:17 PM IST

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during a press conference. (Sanchit Khanna/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during a press conference. (Sanchit Khanna/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
  • Covid-19 infected teenager under fire for “roaming around like an irresponsible person” despite showing symptoms.
  • Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has publicly expressed dismay at the irresponsible behaviour of the family of the UK-returned teenager, who tested positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday (March 17).

    According to this report in The Telegraph, Banerjee slammed the ‘irresponsible’ behaviour of the boy, who is an undergraduate student at Oxford University, and his parents.

    The boy’s mother, a special secretary in the state home department, attended office on Monday and even met Home Cecretary Alapan Bandopadhyay and other senior officers.

    The boy’s father, a physician, examined patients on Monday. While the home secretary and his wife, who is the Vice-Chancellor of Calcutta University, are in ‘isolation’ (home quarantine), state authorities mounted a massive exercise in contact-tracing on Wednesday after the teenager’s swab test results came in on Tuesday evening.

    Passengers who were seated three rows in front and behind the coronavirus-infected teenager on the flight that landed in Kolkata on Sunday (15 March) morning are being traced and will be tested. The rest will be advised to quarantine themselves at home.

    The state health department is also finding out where the teenager and his parents went to after the former reached the city on Sunday morning. “We are trying to trace the people they came in contact with,” said a health official.

    The Chief Minister said that even after showing symptoms of infection, the teenager “roamed around like an irresponsible person” and said nothing could be more callous than that.

    Banerjee also said that the teenager behaved rashly and irresponsibly because “somebody in his family is influential”. She appealed to all flyers landing in Bengal from other countries to strictly follow protocol and observe home quarantine.

    The infected teenager’s relatives, however, mounted a defence. A report in Thursday’s edition of The Times of India quoted a “person close to the family” as saying that the teenager never stepped out of his house.

    The newspaper report said that the teenager stepped out of his house only once to get himself examined at a government healthcare facility, where doctors advised him to undergo a test for the coronavirus at the Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH) at Beliaghata.

    The teenager was then taken to the IDH, but since the time for collection of swab samples had gotten over, he was asked to return the next morning, which he did.

    Meanwhile, swab samples from the parents, driver and family attendant of the teenager that have also been kept in isolation at the IDH have turned out to be negative. The samples have been sent for confirmatory tests. This has come as a huge relief for all those who came in contact with the parents of the teenager.

    The condominium where the family resides has undertaken a massive sanitisation drive and has imposed a number of restrictions. The state government, too, has announced a fresh set of measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

    Government employees all over the state can now log off an hour ahead of schedule at 4 pm in order to minimise crowding in public transport during office hours. Lesser crowds, say health officials, minimise the chances of the virus spreading.

    A third Covid-19 testing centre is being set up at the School of Tropical Medicine (STM) in Kolkata. Testing labs are being set up at North Bengal Medical College and Midnapore Medical College, and the state has sought approval from the Medical Council of India to set up testing facilities at Malda and Murshidabad medical colleges.

    State hospitals have been asked to set up isolation wards and intensive care facilities for Covid-19 positive patients far away from the out-patient departments. All private hospitals have also been issued similar advisories.

    Jaideep Mazumdar is an associate editor at Swarajya.

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