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Mumbai woman accuses BMC of demanding Rs 1 lakh quarantine fee, says lab falsely tested her COVID-19 positive

Sonam's status on Aarogya Setu aap

Sonam’s status on Aarogya Setu aap

A 34-year-old Mumbai woman has accused Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) of harassment saying that the civic body officials demanded Rs 1 lakh time and again from her as a fee for shifting her to a quarantine centre in spite of the fact that she has a COVID-19 negative report. 

The woman ‘ Sonam Shaw ‘ also claims that a BMC approved lab falsely tested her COVID-19 positive. Sonam got tested for the virus four times in a week. While the first lab report (July 20) showed her positive, the subsequent ones (one on the same day of the first report and others after a few days) showed her negative. 

Sonam has accused BMC of refusing to accept her COVID-19 negative report and treating her like a positive patient because the first report she got done from a lab showed her COVID-19 positive. Interestingly, both the labs, which showed Sonam positive and negative in matter of just four days, are approved by BMC. 

Speaking to Nation Next, Sonam said, I have a tiffin services business and I go on my four-wheeler to deliver tiffins to different buildings. I have a three-an-half-year-old son who is severely asthmatic and my old mother at home. Since, COVID-19 crisis is going on I decided to get myself tested for the virus as a precautionary measure. 

The RT-PCR result from SRL Diagnostics

The RT-PCR result from SRL Diagnostics

I got in touch with BMC approved SRL Diagnostics and got a RT-PCR test done on July 18. Meanwhile, I also decided to get another RT-PCR test just to be sure from Lifecare, which is not BMC approved but approved by ICMR. I got tested from Lifecare on July 20, which is the same day test results from SRL came back. 

When I came back home from Lifecare after the test, I got a call from BMC saying my test at SRL has turned out positive. I was told the BMC officials were standing on the ground floor of my building. They surveyed the building, put a COVID-19 notice outside by building and went away. 

After 15-20 minutes, I received a call from BMCs Andheri West ward. I was told about the measures I will have to take. The BMC official tried convincing me to shift to a BMC quarantine centre and asked for Rs 1 lakh as fee. I was told to avoid being quarantined at home as I have my kid and mother at home. 

I told the official that I will quarantine myself in a separate room at my home. However, BMC officials kept calling for four days trying to convince me to pay Rs 1 lakh as quarantine fee. They would call me up at 10 am and till 5 pm I would be on call with them. 

RT-PCR result from Lifecare lab

RT-PCR result from Lifecare lab

I kept convincing BMC to not treat me like a positive patient as I had the negative report from Lifecare but BMC officials were not ready to accept the report. I was told that while Lifecare was approved by ICMR, it was not approved by BMC. I even got a call from SRL saying that Lifecares report was wrong. 

RT-PCR result from Metropolislab

RT-PCR result from Metropolislab

On July 23, a doctor in my building suggested that I should take another RT-PCR test from Metropolis, which is a BMC approved lab. The lab technician came home on the same day and took my sample. On July 24, the result came back as negative. Even after sharing the result from this BMC approved lab with the officials, they refused to declare me negative. 

 

Sonam got in touch with Nation Next thereafter and we suggested her to go for an antibody test. Sonam added, On July 27, I went for an antibody test, which showed that I never had COVID-19. But still BMC officials are not ready to accept the report and are treating me as a positive patient. My status on Aarogya Setu shows me as positive as well.

 

Speaking about the trauma, which she went through, Sonam said, I had to stay away from my little son and mother for a few days. It was really difficult to make my son understand the reason behind it. Plus, I was in a lot of stress. Now, since Aarogya Setu shows me as positive, I cannot travel even after being negative. Sonam maintains that she has had no COVID-19 symptoms or health problems from the time she got the first test till now.

Nation Next shared Sonams reports (which are in possession of Nation Next) with pulmonologist Dr Sameer Arbat and spoke to him about the same. Dr Arbat said, None of the tests, which are being done right now are 100% accurate. They may be 70% accurate. COVID-19 crisis stuck the world so quickly that comprehensive and accurate test kits are still not available. So, it is possible that at times a person may have an active infection but his or hers antibody test may be negative. But if any person tests positive for COVID-19 in a RT-PCR test, it is recommended that the person should go into isolation at home or get treatment at a hospital.

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