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Eight persons forced into mass quarantine for flouting home isolation norms

The Week 2020-03-26 00:00:00
The home quarantine enforcement squad during a home visit to issue home quarantine

Eight persons were taken to the mass quarantine facility in Bengaluru on Wednesday after they violated the home quarantine norms.

At least 10 cases have been booked against people for violation of home quarantine rules. The home quarantine violations attract the provisions under IPC Sec 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life), IPC Sec 270 (malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and various sections under the Karnataka Police Act and Epidemic Act.

"We have lost confidence in them. We are forced to move them to mass quarantine," said health commissioner Pankaj Kumar Pandey.

The enforcement of home quarantine is proving to be a big challenge to the home quarantine enforcement squad in the city.

At least 50 squads have been deployed by the government to contain the spread of the virus by enforcing home quarantine of foreign returnees. The squads are visiting the homes of foreign returnees to stamp and to ensure they follow home quarantine rules.

As many as 40,000 passengers have landed in the Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru from COVID-hit countries between February 13, 2020 and March 19, 2020, which includes Indian students studying abroad, Indian tourists, NRIs, and foreign nationals.

With many of the foreign returnees failing to home quarantine themselves for the prescribed period of 14 days and the majority of the COVID-19 positive cases turning out to be of people with a travel history, and their primary contacts, the government is struggling to reach out to these people for both stamping and to ensure they do not violate the home quarantine norms.

The situation is alarming as the airport was not locked down till March 24. A total of 1.28 lakh international passengers were screened between March 17 and 23. But the domestic passengers were not being screened. The 'home quarantine' stamping of international passengers was started only a couple of days back.

With the COVID-19 positive cases reaching 51 in the state, the health department has started stamping the hands of primary and secondary contacts of all those who have arrived in the city over the last 45 days.

A database of all home quarantined people with their address has also been published to ensure community vigil over them. At least 214 persons have been quarantined across designated hospitals in the state.

"If any person with the home quarantine stamp (on the back of their left palm) is found to be violating the norm (spotted in public places) the public should call 100, 104, 08046848600 or 08066692000 and alert the authorities," urged Pandey.

A COVID-19 war room has been set up in the city to ensure bed availability to patients at designated hospitals, real time tracking of quarantined people, and resource mobilisation.

The government has appealed to all those who have returned from COVID-hit countries or people who have come in contact with foreign returnees to remain in home isolation for 14 days irrespective of whether they show symptoms or not.