Three women from a family in Andhra Pradesh Godavari district isolated themselves for nearly 15 months fearing Covid -19 infection.
As a result of the prolonged isolation self-isolation, the women ended up malnourished.
The incident came to light after some volunteers met them to alert them about being beneficiaries of a government housing scheme. The family refused to meet the volunteer and said they would die if they would come out.
Prolonged isolation resulted in vitamins deficiencies. On Monday, the three women were admitted to the Razole Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh.
“The women had vitamin deficiencies, primarily Vitamin D (due to lack of exposure to the sun) and B-complex. Their hemoglobin levels were as low as 4 grams per decilitre (12.3-15.3 gm/dl is considered normal in women). They were also psychologically depressed”, said Dr. Prabhakar Rao.
Dr. Prabakar said the family survived on the food given to them by villagers and stopped preparing their food.
Choppala Gunanadh Sarpanch of the village said the family got scared after a woman in the neighborhood allegedly succumbed to Covid in March last year. Since then, the women stopped stepping out or meeting anyone fearing they would face the same fate.
“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 horrible shape,” Gunanadh told ThePrint.
“It looked like they did not take a shower. Their features were all changed. I think they could have died. Even when ASHA workers used to go, previously, they never used to respond to them. They probably hid in the hut…,” he added.
“This was a homeless family… and they got into this excessive thinking that stepping out would give them Covid, which pushed them to do this. We had to counsel them and then send them to hospital,” Razole sub-inspector B. Krishnamachary told ThePrint.
The family of five has two men and lives in Kadali village in Razole Mandal of Andhra Pradesh. 50-year-old John Benny and his 29-year-old son Chinababu ran a cycle shop and are the bread earners of the family, only stepped outside the house sometimes, but the women named Ruthamma (45), and two daughters 30-year-old Kanthamani, and 32-year-old Rani, remained inside the house.