A Times Of India report claiming that the wife of a Google employee escaped from quarantine in Bangalore and fled to Agra is false. BOOM spoke to the family members of the couple, who provided us with tickets and proof that show the woman never fled and is yet to test positive as her results are awaited. The husband who is currently in quarantine in Bangalore, tested positive for COVID-19 on March 12.
The Times Of India report published on March 14, falsely claimed that a woman who travelled to Italy with her husband for her honeymoon, "tested positive for COVID-19" and then "fled to New Delhi and Agra" and that she resisted treatment. The report titled, 'Infected Techie's Wife, Who Fled B'luru Tests +ve' was published on March 14 on the front page of all editions of the paper and had quotes from health officials in Agra, the hometown of the woman.
BOOM spoke to the brother of the husband who told us that the couple never travelled to Italy and also clarified that his sister-in-law is yet to test positive, unlike the claim made in Times Of India. "The article is completely wrong and untrue. It has brought my sister-in-law and our family a lot of grief and stress,"he said. Taking into account the privacy of the family, BOOM has decided not to name the couple or any family member.
CLAIM - 'COUPLE RETURNED FROM ITALY'
FACT - FALSE
In its story, Times Of India quoting an anonymous health official said, 'Woman who recently returned from honeymoon in Italy and Greece' This claim is false.
The brother of the woman's husband told BOOM, "They never went to Italy, that was never in the plan. They went to Greece, Switzerland and France. They did not have even a layover in Italy." BOOM verified the same with flight tickets of the couple which showed their itinerary.
The itinerary showed the couple travelled from Delhi to Athens, Greece on February 23 and then returned to Mumbai on March 6 via Munich, Germany.
CLAIM - ESCAPED FROM BANGALORE ON MARCH 8
FACT - The couple was in Mumbai from March 6 till the morning of March 8. They reached Bangalore airport from Mumbai at 9.45 pm on March 8.
We were further informed that the woman flew to Delhi directly from Bangalore airport. "She never left the airport. She had a flight to Delhi within a few hours of landing in Bangalore, and my brother and sister-in-law stayed at the airport, till she boarded the flight. He left the airport and reached my house at around 3 am on March 9."
We corroborated the same from her tickets to Bangalore-Delhi
"She reached Delhi on the morning on March 9 and then boarded the Gatiman Express to Agra from New Delhi at 10 am,"said her brother-in-law. She reached home at Agra the same day on March 9.
CLAIM - LANDED AT MUMBAI AIRPORT ON FEBRUARY 27
FACT - The couple was not in India on February 27.
"They left for their honeymoon on February 23 and reached Mumbai on March 6. How can they have been in India on February 27? The Times Of India should have at least asked us for the dates and destinations before publishing such lies,"said the brother-in-law.
CLAIM - HUSBAND TESTS POSITIVE ON MARCH 7
FACT - He was tested on March 10 and tested positive on March 12.
"My brother went to work in the RMZ office of Google India on March 9 and did not show any symptoms in the internal screening being conducted by the office. Later that day he developed fever and we took him to Rajiv Gandhi Institute Of Chest Diseases on March 10 after we were advised that he should get tested for Coronavirus,"explained the brother. He added that at the hospital they declared the travel history and conducted tests. "We asked them what should be the next time and they said we should go home. We did not understand this procedure so asked what would be the process if he tested positive?". To this he says, the doctors replied, "If you are positive, we will catch hold of you in 24 hours"
He explained that he then took his brother home and on March 11, they received a call from a doctor saying "an ambulance was on its way as his brother was 'suspected to be positive'"
The patient was then kept in isolation for 24 hours with the doctors explaining to the family that they would get final conclusive results on March 12. "We were handed over the results on March 12 which said my brother had tested positive for COVID-19."
BOOM accessed the tests results and found that that report mentioned the 'Date of sample collected for tests' was March 11. Given privacy laws for patients, BOOM has decided to not include the report in the story.
CLAIM - THE COUPLE WAS QUARANTINED IN BANGALORE AND THEN THE WIFE ESCAPED TO AGRA
FACT - The couple never stayed in Bangalore together. They got tested separately in Bangalore and Agra.
"Once my brother tested positive on March 12 in Bangalore, we immediately informed my sister-in-law and her family. They then went to SNL Hospital where she got herself tested,"he explained. He further said that her sister-in-law was asked to remain in isolation after they heard her travel history but the unhygienic conditions of the hospital worried her. He added that she raised the issue with the health officials and they let her go home. "She took due permission from the hospital who said she would have to quarantine herself at home. They agreed to the same and left the hospital,"he said.
The couple were never tested together and the woman never stayed in Bangalore together.
We confirmed the above with Mukesh Vats, Chief Medical Officer, Agra who said that the woman got tested on March 12 and her results are awaited. "The family did raise concerns about the conditions of the hospital but given her travel history we visited them and spoke to them to allow her to be kept in isolation,"said Vats. He explained that the family at first did not co-operate and were reluctant to send the woman to the hospital isolation ward. "We visited their house and they said she wasn't at home. But a search revealed that she was in the house itself. So we spoke to them and requested them to let her be isolated in the hospital,"he said.
Vats added that the woman's family members also underwent tests but tested negative for COVID-19. "The woman's tests are awaited. We cannot comment about it till we get the final test results,"he said.
TIMES OF INDIA ISSUES CLARIFICATION
A day after the misleading Times of India story was published, the news outlet changed the headline of the previous story in the online version to, "Techie had not tested positive when his wife left Bengaluru: Google'. The story also added an update saying, "UPDATE: Google has said that the husband tested +ve on March 12 and no 7, as the story claimed'. The story meanwhile still mentioned the misleading claims that the couple 'returned from their honeymoon in Italy' and that she 'escaped from Bengaluru on March 8'.
BOOM contacted a senior editor in the Agra bureau of the paper who directed us to their follow-up story but refused to come on record.
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