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110-year-old woman survives Covid, but not social stigma

Neighbours of Hameedabhi, who recovered from Covid-19, allegedly want the family to vacate the house and leave the area.

T N HARASANKARAN | Chennai |

A 110-year-old woman of Thirupathur in Tamil Nadu may perhaps be the oldest patient to recover from Covid19 in India.

But unfortunately she also became a victim of social stigma, instead of a model of survival. Tirupathur district currently has 188 cases of coronavirus. Hameedabhi, who recovered from Covid-19 and returned to her residence in Thirupattur district after her hospitalisation, is now surviving after the district collector’s intervention and help of local MLA after she met with social stigma and fear over the coronavirus.

Hameeda’s neighbours in Periyavarikam village near Ambur allegedly want the family to vacate the house and leave the area. Hameeda lives along with her daughter, granddaughter and great grandson in Periyavarikam village.

While her family members believe Hameeda is 130 years old, health department officials say she is around 110 years of age. Hameedabhi complained of a cold and was taken to a primary health centre in Nariyampattu on 29 June.

Based on the advice of the doctors, her swabs were collected and sent for Covid-19 testing. On 1 July, Hameeda tested positive for the novel coronavirus and was taken to the Ambur Government Hospital.

The centenarian responded well to the treatment and she recovered. She was also discharged from the hospital and was sent home on 12 July.

However, upon her return, Hameeda faced social stigma and ostracism by her neighbours. The neighbours allegedly told Sama, Hameeda’s granddaughter, to vacate their home and leave the area. They also allegedly threatened her of consequences if they refused to vacate their home.

Even after the intervention of district collector, the behaviour of the neighbours has not changed, according to her family. Sama is quoted as alleging that neighbours had told them to leave even the village but they did not have enough money to shift to another rented place. Following this, the Tirupattur Collector promised protection for the family.

Ambur MLA Vilwanathan of the DMK visited Hameeda and her family members. The MLA then handed over Rs 5,000 aid and groceries for the family.