B'luru: Apartment of mutant virus positive duo sealed

New coronavirus strain: BBMP seals apartment after residents resist shifting to quarantine centres

BBMP at first asked the apartment's residents to shift to institutional quarantine centres or hotels, but residents resisted the move

BBMP sealed down a five-storeyed apartment in Kumaraswamy Layout's Vittalnagar as a mother-daughter duo tested positive for the new coronavirus variant. Credit: DH Photo/Pushkar V

A multi-storey apartment complex in South Bengaluru's Kumaraswamy Layout became a contentious place on Tuesday after BBMP officials tried to send 37 residents to institutional quarantine or hotels. It had to backtrack after residents opposed the move. 

A woman and her six-year-old daughter, who returned from the UK and tested positive for the new strain of the novel coronavirus, live in the apartment. 

As per BBMP records, officials took the nasopharyngeal swabs of 35 apartment residents — the neighbours of this Covid-positive family, who qualify as secondary contacts — for RT-PCR testing on December 23 and December 24. All tested negative. 

Also Read | 6 UK returnees test positive for new coronavirus strain in India

One of the neighbours, 30-year-old Jayanth Kumar, a fashion designer and stylist, was surprised to see an ambulance parked in front of his apartment on Tuesday morning. "The family that tested positive lives on the fourth floor and I have never personally interacted with them. We learnt about them only when it came in the news. We had all tested negative and were surprised that the BBMP has come to take us to institutional quarantine." 

"We don’t know what we’ll be exposed to at these hotels or quarantine facilities so we unanimously requested them to allow us to stay back at our respective homes. On Tuesday, our blood sugar and oxygen saturation levels were tested. A BBMP volunteer has been stationed here to get groceries. A camp has been set up at the entrance with policemen too,” Jayanth added. 

Residents said they had not been told how long they would be in-home quarantine. Barricades have been placed near the entrance on the road leading to the apartment. The apartment residents will be considered secondary contacts of the mother-daughter duo as they’ve all used common areas like lifts and staircases. 

Also Read | Bengaluru: Mother, 6-year-old daughter test positive for new virus strain; Govt clueless about third infection

Dr Vijayendra B K, Chief Health Officer, Public Health, BBMP, said: "We’ve been asked by the government to shift primary contacts of Covid-positive UK returnees to institutional quarantine, that is, hotels. Till last night, there were 45 primary contacts of 16 Covid patients from the UK in the city. Previously, they were in home quarantine.” 

Dr G K Suresh, Deputy Health Officer, BBMP, Bommanahalli, who was at the apartment, said: "Since the apartment dwellers did not agree to be shifted, we have sealed the apartment. As many as 37 people are residing in 12 houses here.” 

M Ramakrishna, Joint Commissioner, Bommanahalli, confirmed to DH that they were not shifting families out. “We are just keeping all primary and secondary contacts in their respective homes."