Hyderabad: It was in March last year that coronavirus and Covid-19 were words that everyone in the neighbourhood spoke and debated about as different parts of the country began reporting cases of the disease that was spreading all over the world after emerging in Wuhan late in 2019.
But no one in Ravi Colony, Mahendra Hills, believed that their residential area would become, in some ways, synonymous with the disease. And on March 2 of last year, all hell broke loose following news that the State’s first confirmed Covid-19 case was that of a colony resident.
“I would be lying if I tell you now that we were not scared,” said Varun Vohra, whose house is a few plots away from the young man who tested positive. “Almost immediately, our entire area was barricaded. Officials were spraying sanitizing liquid in the area. For three months after that, it was like living in a prison. No one was allowed to come out and the government supplied essential groceries. It was a time of fear,” he told Deccan Chronicle.
The 22-year-old techie, who became Telangana state’s first Covid-19 case, had arrived home in Ravi Colony by bus from Bengaluru where he worked. Before his trip to Hyderabad, he was in Dubai, attending a business conference, where he is believed to have picked up the virus.
His family was barred by neighbours from even opening windows of their house. The enormous media attention on the colony, and its residents, heightened the fears. Everything in the barricaded colony was shut, including the dhobi and hair salon. The effect of the trauma continues to remain. Shiva Hair Saloon, which reopened post-lockdown, has lost several regular customers.
“It has been a year but the number of customers coming to us is significantly less than what it was in the pre-Covid days,” Shiva, who runs the saloon, said.
For Srinivas, who runs Srinivas Kirana Shop, things were a little better. “By taking all the necessary precautions, we continued our business, as we were considered an essential service,” he said.
Archana, a sanitation worker with GHMC, recalls the deep fear that gripped her and her colleagues when they learnt that there was a Covid-19 case in the colony. They did not know much about the virus, but they were aware that the victim could die.
“We were all so scared. We did not know what to do but had to keep working in the area,” she said.
Lakshmi, a resident, whose house is just behind the house of the first victim, said “Our whole family was scared. We were glued to the TV all the time trying to learn as much as we could about what was happening around us.”
For Tulsi Rao, a police officer from Lalaguda police station, and a resident of Ravi Colony, the Covid-19 case meant more responsibility.
“The area was barricaded. There is a BC Welfare Hostel just a few blocks away. The inmates were evacuated immediately. We tried to tell the locals to stay calm. It was a huge responsibility,” he said....