TIRUCHY: We would all have furnished fake details about ourselves to someone at some point in life. The possible reasons for this completely momentary perception-based forgery could be to avoid a potential spammer or a ‘fill-this-to-get-a-gift-voucher’ scheme. But, when we are collectively grappling with the universal invisible enemy called Coronavirus, the falsification of data about oneself could potentially hamper the battle we are fighting.
In a case that explains the prelude, a number of people in Tiruchy reporting for swab samples have given fake addresses, fearing isolation, and worse, stigma. This has made contact tracing an arduous task for the medical staff. People who are in contact with Covid-19 patients and those who have symptoms have to undergo swab tests at the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Government Hospital in Tiruchy.
Prior to testing, they have to provide their contact details, travel history and symptoms to hospital staff. However, it has been found out that over 40 per cent of those who came for the test have given fake addresses. It is to be noted that they do not need to provide any ID proof at this point. This is leading to a delay in isolating the patients and tracing their contacts.
Positive people play ‘Catch me if you can’ game
However, the saving grace is that the people have been honest about giving their mobile numbers. This is understandable because they would be keen to know their result. A person from Ariyamangalam tested positive on June 27. “When we contacted him over phone, he said he was at home. When we visited his ‘home’, the doors were locked. Police traced him and found him at a place that was one km away from the address he provided,” he said.
In another case, officials had to wait for over two hours in front of a house in K Abhishekapuram, as a person from the family, who tested positive had left the premises, expecting their arrival. “They do not understand how many fellow citizens are at risk because of their action,” said an official coordinating contact tracing in the ward. There are few other patients, who do not want the officials to knock at their doors as it may unnecessarily make people ‘talk’ in hushed tones on their streets. Instead, they choose to meet the officials at some nearby bus stop and go along with them to the hospital.
Like, on June 25, when the officials prepared to pick up a patient from Karumandapam, he requested them to wait at a nearby bus stop. Sooner, he arrived at the said location. Another official said, “People from the lower strata of the society have no problem in getting admitted to government hospitals. However, those from the middle and upper classes, who usually do not visit the GH, hesitate to come with us. These are the people who give fake addresses.
The problem is, they do not want to get treated at the GH, but at the same time, they do not have the financial resources to afford treatment at a private hospital.” S Sivasubramaniam, Commissioner, Tiruchy City Corporation said, “We are looking at this issue seriously. To avoid this ‘delay tactic’ by the public, we have proposed to collect Aadhar details at the time of testing. We request the public to coordinate with the civic body to fight Covid-19.”