In these panicky coronavirus times, two persons from Mumbai and Thane this week got weird shockers on their Covid-19 infection status from a government lab, two private labs of the same company, and status on the Centre's portal.
Within hours after they underwent their RT-PCR tests, the two jittery men were declared as both -- Covid-19 'Negative' and 'Positive' -- playing havoc with their lives, families, neighbourhood, offices and travel plans.
On Monday, a Mumbai realtor Vijay P. Agarwal, 58, of Malad, who had to step out for some meetings, routinely checked his status on the Centre's Aarogya Setu portal and was aghast to find himself mentioned as 'Positive'.
"I immediately shut myself in my room in self-isolation and underwent the RT-PCR test from the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) centre near my house to confirm my infection status. Yesterday, (Jan. 11), the BMC test came out 'Negative', creating further confusion," Agarwal fumed.
A Thane resident, K.G., 40, who was due to fly to the Arabian Gulf last week, has narrated a similar harrowing experience this week.
Like any law-abiding citizen, he underwent the pre-flight mandatory RT-PCR test at a reputed private lab and was relieved to find it as 'Negative', so he made preparations for his flight the next day (January 3).
"That day, when I went to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport, I was asked to do another RT-PCR test. Shockingly, that report came 'Positive' and I could not board the flight," rued K. G., declining to reveal his full identity, apprehending reprisals.
Strangely, both the test results, received within a gap of barely 24 hours, were conducted by the same lab at their Thane branch and at the CSMIA.
While Agarwal -- who has several heart-related comorbidities -- has recently taken the first jab of Covid-19 vaccine and is awaiting the second dose after around 45 days, K.G. was fully vaxxed a few months ago on account of his frequent foreign travels.
After facing flak at home and the neighbourhood for the mega-scare, Agarwal has shot off an email to Aarogya Setu authorities seeking an explanation for their misleading status against his name, but no response has been received.
As far as K.G. is concerned, he cooled his heels under home isolation for a week, underwent another RT-PCR test, which came 'Positive' on Tuesday and his foreign travel plans have been further nixed.
Demanding action, the duo slammed the lab authorities for the "sheer negligence" leading to such contradictory RT-PCR test reports which create upheavals in the lives of the victims, with their scared families, neighbours and others shunning or boycotting them completely.
For instance, K.G. mentioned how he is forced to rely on some friends to even send him his daily meals by a helper for the past 10 days and the coming few days till he hopefully tests 'Negative' in a reliable RT-PCR report, to enable him resume his international travel plans.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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