Social Distancing or Ostracisation? K'taka Neighbours Want US-returned Elderly Couple to Stay Away
Residents say they are unsure if the couple was thoroughly screened at the airport, if that alone is enough, and that such times called for harsh measures.
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Bengaluru: While social distancing is the need of the hour, fears surrounding coronavirus may be taking social ostracisation to an all-new high.
For a Bengaluru couple, unwelcoming neighbours ensured that they remain outside their apartment and are unable to enter their home for a night, because they feared the couple could be carriers of the dreaded virus.
Senior citizens Raja Rao and Vimala were in for a rude shock on their return from Delhi on Wednesday evening, when they were told that they would not be allowed to go home as other residents of the apartment knew that they had come back from the United States and didn't want them to enter the premises.
"We want to take precautionary measures from our end. We do not believe that they would remain home quarantined for 14 days -- they would have to move around to buy the basics. We would not like to take that risk. Hence, we asked them to get admitted to a hospital," said one of the residents of Rama Sourabha Apartment in NR Colony in South Bengaluru.
The Raos recently visited one of their sons in the US and had returned to India on 18 March. Their other son lives in Bengaluru and the building residents insisted that the couple go and live with him instead of putting the dwellers of the 25 other apartments at risk.
"Most of the residents in the building are elderly and we have a few infants as well. We have seen the statistics world-over that those who have died are mostly the senior citizens. Who is going to take responsibility if anything happens to them? Because of the couple, we have to put so many other lives at risk," said another neighbour.
According to the residents, they are unsure if a thorough screening was done at the airport and whether that alone is enough.
Former mayor and local corporator Katte Satyanarayana joined the residents to put pressure on the couple to move out temporarily. "I have to worry for the well-being of all, people here are afraid. What is wrong if they go and admit themselves to a hospital? Symptoms show only after a few days, let them get tested and then come back, we would have no problem then," he said.
After spending the night away, the Raos finally entered their home the next morning. The couple live in a flat on the mezzanine floor. Each floor has four apartments, with doors adjacent to one another.
The couple would have to be under home isolation as mandated by the government for any passenger who has travelled abroad and is asymptomatic. They stayed indoors even as the residents created a ruckus while speaking with this reporter.
Nagaraj, an 82-year-old man, who lives nearby said he doesn't mean to push the Raos away, but such times called for harsh measures.
"I live with my 86-year-old brother. We know that even they are aged, but now, we all are at risk. We don't know when and how the virus will spread," he said.
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