A 63-year-old man in Mumbai tested positive for COVID-19 on March 13 and succumbed on March 17, the residents of his housing society said the patient faced social discrimination, including receiving abusive messages on the phone and social media platforms.
His wife and son have also tested positive and are currently admitted at Kasturba hospital.
People who managed to identify him sent hate messages and discriminated against his family members after he tested positive, the residents alleged.
"Since the day he tested positive, he started facing criticism from many people — his close relatives, some society residents and also those who have known him for years. He received messages where people blamed him from spreading the virus. The next day, someone sent him a message stating that the man who had tested positive had died. This caused immense grief to his family. Imagine receiving a message of your own death," The Indian Express quotes a resident as saying.
The residents also stated that the man's daughter and granddaughter faced discrimination in school and their locality.
The deceased had been a resident of the society for the last 20 years.
According to the residents, once the news of the infection spread, domestic help and other service providers were scared to come to the society fearing contamination.
The BMC had surveyed 460 houses in 15 buildings around the man's residence to check for patients with symptoms but found none.
Seven of his relatives were tested for the virus, only his wife and son tested positive.
Residents also alleged that "outsiders are spreading rumours" about the society.
"BMC employees came on Monday and asked us if everything is fine. We told them about the problems we have been facing. Outsiders are spreading rumours and creating panic. There is a need for an awareness and sensitization programme in the area," Dakshesh Sampat, a resident was quoted as saying.
"When we told civic officials about the discrimination, they said they can't do much as the society and neighbouring area falls in two different wards," Sampat said.
"People think we have become untouchable. At night, bikers shout 'corona' around the society and run away. We had hired a contractor for arranging a handwashing facility outside the building. The contractor had already installed the basin and did not turn up for remaining work. We are facing mental trauma… People should know if precautions are taken properly, nothing will happen. We are requesting authorities to end our ordeal by organising an awareness drive," he added.
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