Deeply worried about contracting COVID, three members of a family at Kadali village in Andhra Pradesh’s Razole Mandal isolated themselves in a tent house in March 2020. The women — Ruthamma (45) and her daughters Kanthamani (30) and Rani (32) — were ‘rescued’ by the police earlier this week, media reports said.
The three were found to be severely malnourished and depressed, and admitted to the Razole Government Hospital. Ruthamma’s John Benny (50) and son Chinababu (29) did not adopt the same rigorous self-isolation, the reports added.
Hospital superintendent Prabhakar Rao reportedly said in a statement that the women suffered from vitamin deficiencies — Vitamin D due to lack of exposure to the sun, and B-complex due to poor nutrition. Also, their haemoglobin levels had plunged to 4 gm/dl (against the 12-15 gm/dl normally seen in Indian women). Rao said they were also psychologically depressed, too.
A report in The Print quoted village sarpanch Choppala Gunanadh as saying the family panicked when a woman in the neighbourhood succumbed to COVID last March. Following that, they stopped stepping out of their home.
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He further said news of their being fully isolated came out as a volunteer sought to inform them that they were beneficiaries of a government housing scheme. The women refused to meet the volunteer, the sarpanch said.
“A few of their relatives told us that they have not been stepping out and are almost on the verge of dying. So, we alerted the police and, when we called them out, the women were in a very bad shape,” Gunanadh told The Print.
The sarpanch said there were changes in their physical appearance as well. “It looked like they did not take a shower…their features were all changed,” the report quoted him as saying.
The men in the household stepped out to buy groceries and go for work, though they too curbed the trips when the second wave set in.
The family made do with the limited food in hand. While they refused to meet the ASHA volunteers, they sometimes accepted the ration given to them.
“When it rained, they covered their hut with a tarpaulin sheet and they stayed inside despite the hut leaking. They even defecated inside their huts,” Gunanadh told The Print.