Baku: Hide a coronavirus diagnosis or just ignore it? Why not both?
Nargiz (name has been changed) has been working in the office of an HR company in Baku. The office was closed in April during the quarantine. A month and a half later, the government eased the quarantine measures and the office reopened.
Nargiz complains that there is little work to be done and that the majority of it could be done from home, only coming in occasionally when a task requires it. But the bosses say they have to come in every day.
“The day before yesterday, one of my coworkers said that he had taken a COVID test after his wife had come down with a fever and a cough. Yesterday, he didn’t show up to work, just in case, and today they called him and said that both he and his wife had tested positive. He asked our director if he should give them the name of the company he works at, but the director urged him not to, fearing that the company would shut down again.”
The boss asked the other employees not to tell anyone else what happened.
“One of the employees asked, ‘Why shouldn’t I tell anyone?’ And the director said, ‘You don’t want the office to close. And our partners also must not know about this.’”
Nargiz tried to explain to the director that she didn’t want to test positive to coronavirus herself, or to spread the disease to her loved ones, but the director laughed it off and said, “Don’t worry about it, just go back to work.” She says that her boss and the other employees are still sceptical about the coronavirus.
“Almost all my colleagues treat coronavirus like a normal respiratory infection, which is why no one objected to the situation. Some say it’s all a political plot, others say that you’ll just get a little sick and then you’ll be fine again. Only one woman was upset because she has an elderly mother and was concerned for her health, but she decided not to confront the boss.
Their opinions are being reinforced by the fact that TƏBİB [the state agency responsible for fighting coronavirus — JAMnews] is not giving out documentary evidence of a positive result to those who are diagnosed.
They just told our coworker over the phone, and when he asked to have a copy of the results himself, they said that they wouldn’t send them, by order of the president.”
Nonetheless, not everyone feels this way. Nargiz says that one of her friend’s bosses, having heard about the incident at Nargiz’ company and knowing that she recently met up Nargiz, sent her home until the end of next week.
“And today the boss came into our office, jokingly coughed and said, ‘There, now you’re all infected.’
Yesterday, I decided to call my boss and tell him to let me stay home from work, otherwise I’d tell everyone what happened. I’m going to call an ambulance in the morning and ask them to do a test. Although I hear they won’t come unless you have a fever. My coworker and his wife aren’t even being treated because they have ‘mild symptoms.’”
Nargiz did not go to work the next day, saying she was sick. She had a temperature of 37, but the ambulance said that they would come only “if the situation becomes really bad.”